Twenty-two-year-old Babita Kumari has finally come out of her elder sister Geeta Phogat’s shadow, winning a bronze medal in the recently-concluded world women’s wrestling championship in Edmonton, Canada. Babita, however, is not satisfied with her achievement.
Both sisters had made progress in National and international competitions simultaneously. But Geeta had been in the limelight after winning the Commonwealth Games gold two years ago, and then going on to become the first ever woman wrestler from the country to qualify for the Olympics this year.
Babita, who won silver in the Commonwealth Games but had missed the bus to the London Games, had some consolation after bagging the 51kg bronze in Edmonton.
“I am very happy. But I know I am capable of doing better and I will try to win the gold next time,” said Babita after arriving here from Canada early on Tuesday.
“I am yet to catch up with Geeta. After all, she has had the honour of making it to the Olympics,” Babita said.
Babita acknowledged that being part of the Olympic preparatory camp alongside Geeta had helped her in the world championship.
“I got a lot of exposure in the training camps in the USA and Belarus. That improved my defence and boosted my confidence,” she said.
Babita said she could have made it to the 51kg final at least had she not picked up a knee injury during her quarterfinal bout against Japan’s Risako Kawai.
“I had beaten the Canadian wrestler (Jessica MacDonald) in the Commonwealth Games. But I was a bit cautious because of my injury and lost to her (in the semis),” said Babita, who got the better of defending champion Zamira Rakhmanova in repechage for the podium finish.
The siblings from Haryana made history of sorts when Geeta claimed the 55kg bronze a day later.
Geeta said her Olympic preparation had reflected in her performance.
“For the last one year, I have been in good form. I was sixth in the last world championships in Turkey. Then I qualified for the Olympics and had some good training for it. I continued with it even though there were some post-Olympics distractions. I always felt confident of doing well and my morale was up after Babita secured a medal.”
Geeta, who lost to three-time Olympic champion and eventual gold medallist Yoshida Saori of Japan, overcame two strong opponents (from Kazakhstan and Ukraine) in the repechage rounds to become the seventh Indian to land a world championship medal.
Uday Chand (bronze, 1961, Japan), Vishambhar Singh (silver, 1967, India), Alka Tomar (bronze, 2006, China), Ramesh Kumar (bronze, 2009, Denmark) and Sushil Kumar (gold, 2010, Russia) are the other Indians to have won world championship medals.
Both Geeta and Babita have made their father and guiding force Mahabir Singh proud. “He is happy. But, his ultimate desire is to see us win Olympic medals,” said Geeta.
The sisters are now focusing on consistency in all major events, and the next big target is the Asian championship to be held in Delhi next year.
“We will start training for it soon. We are aiming for gold medals as we will get the benefit of performing before the home crowd,” said Geeta, who had landed the bronze in the Asian championship in Korea earlier this year.
Keywords: women’s wrestling championship