Antim Panghal Claims gold on National Games debut

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Reigning World under-20 champion Antim Panghal doesn’t like wasting time on the mat. Instead, she relies on her meticulous homework on her opponents a night before the bouts to dominate them.

And it was usual business for the 18-year-old from Hisar, who walked away with the gold by defeating Madhya Pradesh’s Priyanshi Prajapati by fall in the women’s 53kg wrestling event in the 36th National Games here on Sunday.

“She would keep pursuing as soon as we end our training sessions before any major tournament to search for videos of her opponents. At times it gets difficult to collect videos, especially in domestic competitions as most coaches don’t like sharing inputs, which is quite understandable,” her coach Vikash Bharadwaj said as he patted Antim on her return from the mat.

“I told her before going for the final bout against Madhya Pradesh’s Priyanshi, that you should target win by fall. She’s already in the 53kg category while Priyanshi is from the 50kg, so there’s always an edge,” Vikash said.

Just then, a gentleman from Haryana passes by as Antim grasps for breath after her bout. He hands out a Rs 500 note to the youngster and says, “Beti maine tera U-20 World championship wala bout dekha tha, tujhe milne ke liye bahut try kya, aaj mili toh yeh le, khoob tarakki kar….(I have been chasing you since I watched your Under-20 World Championship performance, please accept this, and keep flying high).”

Antim, as an obedient student looks up to Vikash, who asks her to accept it as a blessing, to which the teenaged sensation obliged.

Antim had joined the Babba Lal Das Wrestling Academy in 2016 as a 12-year-old after one of her four elder sisters, a kabaddi player, spotted a wrestling academy in remote Baghana village of Hisar. She contacted the coach after discussing with her farmer father.

“She was 12 when she joined our academy, and we found her a perfect fit for wrestling. She had the perfect physique and temperament of being a wrestler, but what actually made her stand out in the crowd was her passion for the sport. She would keep training for hours without a single complaint while others would keep requesting to lessen weight training. For Antim, it was always like what’s next, and we would coax her to rest,” he said.

The loss in the Commonwealth Games qualifiers to eventual gold medallist in 53kg weight division Vinesh Phogat, left young Antim dejected. The youngster doesn’t like losing, and on Sunday her prowess was on full display as she opened up a big 5-0 lead early on before taking the gold by fall

on her debut Games.

“Isko bas medal ki bhookh hai…(she is only hungry for medals). After the loss to Vinesh in the qualifiers, she took it as a challenge to win big in her next competition. The National Games is a good exposure for her, we worked out on a few technical flaws which she committed in the bout against Vinesh,” he said.

Gujarat’s Khalifa Hina and Maharashtra’s Swati Sanjay grabbed the bronze medals on offer in the category.

In other categories, seasoned Maharashtra grappler Narsingh Pancham Yadav had to settle for the bronze in the men’s freestyle 74kg division, in which Delhi’s Yash took the gold after getting the better of Haryana’s Sagar Jaglan in the final.

In men’s 86kg, Uttar Pradesh’s Jointy Kumar took the gold after defeating second seeded Vetal Audamb of Maharashtra.

In women’s 57kg category, Haryana grappler Mansi registered a thumping win over Chandigarh’s Neetu by fall to pocket the yellow metal. Preety Kumar of Rajasthan and Sonali Mandlik of Maharashtra took the bronze medals after winning their respective bouts.

In Greco Roman, Gyanender of the Services took the gold medal while Haryana’s Vikas took home the silver in the 60kg category, while in the 130kg class, Haryana’s Satish bagged the gold after Services grappler Naveen skipped the final due to an injury. Gursewak Singh of Punjab and Yatendra of Uttar Pradesh bagged the bronze medals in the category.

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