NEW DELHI: Antim Panghal became the first-ever Indian woman wrestler to win a gold at the U-20 world championships, when she defeated Kazakhstan’s Atlyn Shagayeva 8-0 in the 53kg category final in Sofia, Bulgaria on Friday.
It was for the first time in the competition’s 34-year long history that an Indian girl has finished on top of the podium. Antim, the youngest of four siblings, dominated Shagayeva with her leg attacks and takedowns to be crowned the world junior champion.
Belonging from Haryana’s Bhagana village in Hisar district, the 17-year-old won all her bouts by huge margins, including the prized scalp of European champion Olivia Andrich, whom she defeated by technical superiority (11-0).
In the quarters, Antim had pinned Japan’s Ayaka Kimura before blazing past Ukraine’s Nataliia Klivchutska (11-2) in the semis. Antim was inspired to pursue her career in sports after watching her eldest sister, Sarita, make the senior ranks as a national-level kabaddi player with the Indian team.
“I didn’t know about the record. Only after winning the final did my coaches tell me that I have become the first-ever woman wrestler from India to win the championships. It’s a proud feeling for everyone. I am thankful to my parents for allowing me to pursue wrestling, especially my didi (sister Sarita) for always supporting and encouraging me. My target is to win an Olympic medal for the country and this is just the beginning for me,” a joyous Antim said after her win.
In other bouts, Sonam Malik and Priyanka won silver medals in 62 kg and 65 kg respectively, while Reetika (72kg) and Sito (57kg) settled for a bronze each after triumphing in their repechage rounds. India has so far won 12 medals at the U-20 Worlds, with the men’s freestyle wrestlers clinching a silver and six bronze and women grapplers cornering one gold, two silver and an equal number of bronze.