Y.B. Sarangi

JALANDHAR: A decent Canadian representation and a rising Cameroon threatened India’s domination in the Commonwealth wrestling championship at the P.A.P. Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

In the women’s competitions on the second day, the host managed three gold medals, while Canada and Cameroon won two titles each. South Africa and Scotland also tried to make some inroads, signified by their frequent presence on the podium.

Indian grapplers faltered in heavier weights. They slipped down the medals tally with increase in weight classes.

The sibling duo of Babita and Geeta took top honours in 51 and 55 kg respectively. Alka Tomar also lived up to her billing in 59 kg. A bronze medallist in the 2006 World championship, Alka thrashed her opponents ruthlessly on her way to the peak.

India’s chief coach P.R. Sondhi was satisfied with the team’s showing. “We had expected four gold medals. However, this is not the end of the road and we have enough time to improve for the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

The only shock for the host came in the 48kg class where Cameroon’s R. Mwambo pipped Nirmala Devi in the title clash. “We have a French coach who is training us. He is responsible for developing wrestling in our country,” said the 24-year-old African champion.

Current World championship bronze medallist Justine Bouchard of Canada bagged the 63kg gold convincingly. “The Indian wrestlers gave us some challenge. The level of competition here was as expected. This can become a little tougher in the Commonwealth Games,” said the 23-year-old.

In three weight categories — 55kg, 63kg and 67kg — medals were decided on the basis of the Nordic system.

The medal winners (Indians unless specified): 48kg: 1. R. Mwambo (Cmr), 2. Nirmala Devi, 3. Brumilda Leeuw (SA) and Neha Rathi. 51kg: 1. Babita, 2. Mpho Madi (SA), 3. Donna Robertson (Scl) and Diana Ford (Can). 55kg: 1. Geeta, 2. Nirmala Devi, 3. Jayne Clason (Scl) and Emily Bensted (Aus). 59kg: 1. Alka Tomar, 2. Rajni, 3. Louisa Salmon (Eng) and Jazmyne Barker (Can). 63kg: 1. Justine Bouchard (Can), 2. Anita, 3. Navjot Kaur and Zumicke Geringer (SA). 67kg: 1. Megan Buydens (Can), 2. Ashlea McManus (Scl), 3. Suman Kundu and Babita. 72kg: 1. Anabelle Laure Ali (Cmr), 2. Sonja Coetzee (SA), 3. Erica Wiebe (Can) and Anmol.

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