Coming from a family of wrestlers, teenager Vinesh stunned an experienced Neha Rathi to take the 51kg women’s crown in the National wrestling championship at the Nandini Nagar College campus here on Saturday.
In her debut year in the Nationals, 18-year-old Vinesh was ahead of her age in terms of confidence and maturity. The sharp youngster from Haryana made the best use of her alert mind and quick movement to beat four opponents before setting up a title clash with multiple National title winner and current Asian bronze medallist Neha.
Growing up in the company of World championship medal winning sisters like Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari was always a big boost for Vinesh. With cousin sister Geeta guiding from mat-side, Vinesh exhibited her presence of mind and solid grips to outsmart Neha 3-0, 3-0 in the final.
“My sisters are my inspiration. Since all of us (five sisters in the family) pursue wrestling, it provides good practice. I knew I had to give my 100 per cent against Neha and I did it,” said Vinesh, an Asian junior bronze medallist and a two-time National junior champion in 48kg.
Manoj, another youngster from Haryana, gave a valiant performance to bag the 55kg Greco Roman gold. He went past three rivals before scoring an upset victory over 2010 Commonwealth Games gold winner Rajender Kumar in the semifinals.
In a keenly-fought final bout, the 21-year-old pushed Services grappler Gaurav Sharma beyond the red zone to take the first period 1-0. Gaurav rallied to snatch a point and draw parity following a close contest in the next period. The never-say-die Manoj defied his bleeding chin to turn the tables on his opponent and claim his maiden title in the Nationals.
“Manoj is a promising boy. He has in him to do well at the international level,” said Haryana coach Anup Singh Dahiya.
In 60kg freestyle, Services wrestler Rajneesh Dalal, one of the training partners of Olympic bronze medal winner Yogeshwar Dutt, lived up to his reputation by cornering his second gold medal. He had won his first National title in 2009.
Interestingly, all the four medallists in 60kg freestyle belonged to the akhara at the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi.
The medal winners: Men: Freestyle: 60kg: 1. Rajneesh Dalal (SSCB), 2. Jaideep (RSPB), 3. Pardeep (Chd) and Bajrang (Del); 74kg: 1. Deepak (Del), 2. Jitendra (Har), 3. Pravesh Kumar (Del) and Jai Bhagwan (WB).
Greco Roman: 55kg: 1. Manoj (Har), 2. Gaurav Sharma (SSCB), 3. Rajender Kumar (Har) and Manjeet (SSCB); 66kg: 1. Deepak (SSCB), 2. Anand (Del), 3. Anil Kumar (RSPB) and M. Rafik (Kar); 84kg: 1. Manoj (Har), 2. Harpreet Singh (Pun), 3. Rajesh Kumar (Miz) and Vivek Yadav (UP).
Women: 51kg: 1. Vinesh (Har), 2. Neha Rathi (Har), 3. Bharti (Del) and Archana Tomar (UP); 59kg: 1. Shilpi Sheoran (Har), 2. Sudesh (Del), 3. Kristina Arya (Utk) and Rachna Sekhawat (MP).
Keywords: National wrestling championship