Putting aside the mental and physical struggles that pegged her back, an intimidating Vinesh Phogat pounced on her rivals to put herself in line for a hat-trick of CWG gold medals while the formidable Ravi Dahiya too cruised into the final, here on Saturday. In what was expected to be a tough opener against world championship bronze medallist Samantha Leigh Stewart, Vinesh reduced it to a no contest and finished it in mere 36 seconds.
Vinesh had the Canadian in a head lock from where she pushed her on the mat and in no time pinned her rival. Even before people could warm up to the contest, it was all over. Next up for the 27-year-old Vinesh was Nigeria’s Mercy Bolafunoluwa Adekuoroye, who tried to resist a bit but soon the Indian had her in an iron grip. Vinesh kept her in that position for more than a minute in a magnificent show of power. With only four wrestlers in the women’s 53kg draw, Vinesh now needs to beat Sri Lanka’s Chamodya Keshani Maduravlage Don to win her third successive gold.
Vinesh has been struggling for form and fitness ever since her defeat at the Tokyo Games, where she made a shock first-round exit after entering the field as the hot favourite for the gold medal.Tokyo Games silver medallist Ravi Kaumar Dahiya was also too good for his field. He won both his bouts — against Suraj Singh of New Zealand and Pakistan’s Asad Ali — by technical superiority. He will face Nigeria’s Ebikewenimo Welson for his maiden CWG gold.Also fighting for gold is Naveen (74kg), who began with TSU wins over Nigeria’s Ogbonna Emmanuel John, Singapore’s Hong Yeow Lou and England’s Charlie James Bowling. He will next fight it out with Pakistan’s Tahir Muhammad Sharif.
In women’s 50kg, Pooja Sihag made a confident start with a TSU win over Scotland’s Christelle Lemofack Letchidjio and then got a walk over from Cameron’s Rebecca Ndolo Muambo to make the semifinal stage with ease. However, she lost the last-four clash 6-9 to Canada’s Madison Bianca Parks and will fight for bronze against the Scottish player. Since only six wrestlers featured in this category, it was competed in Nordic style where all wrestlers, divided into two groups, competed once against each other. In men’s freestyle 97kg, Deepak will also fight for bronze. He will clash with Pakistan’s Tayab Raza. India have already won six medals in wrestling, including three gold.