Rising wrestling sensation Antim Panghal secured a bronze medal in the women’s 53 kg category and earned India a quota for the Paris Olympics 2024 at the ongoing World Wrestling Championships 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday. She clinched victory in the bronze medal match by defeating two-time European Champion Emma Jonna Denise Malmgren with a score of 16-6.
This achievement marks India’s first medal in the ongoing edition of the tournament, making it the country’s 23rd medal in the history of the World Wrestling Championships. India’s previous medals include one gold, five silver, and 17 bronze.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) Media shared the news of this triumph by Antim Panghal, an athlete supported by the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). In her journey through the championships, Panghal made a notable upset by defeating the reigning World Champion, Parris D, with a score of 3-2 in the 53kg weight category. She continued her strong performance by defeating Roksana Marta Zasina of Poland with a dominating score of 10-0 via VSU (Victory by technical superiority) in the round of 16.
In the quarterfinals, Panghal secured her place with a 9-6 victory via VPO1 (Victory by Points with Technical Points) against Russia’s Natalia Malysheva. Although she faced a defeat in the semifinals against Belarusian wrestler Vanesa Kaladzinskaya, Panghal went on to win the bronze medal match.
Vikas Bhardwaj, Panghal’s coach at Hisar Baba Lal Das Kushti Akhada, commented on her performance, saying, “Antim had gone to the World championships thinking she would fight for the gold. She wasn’t thinking of any other medal. She knew she had to win gold for people to believe that she was the best wrestler in India in her category. But it wasn’t meant to be.”
Notably, Panghal faced a challenging preparation phase leading up to the World Championships. Just a day before her departure for Serbia, she suffered a fall while climbing a rope at her akhara. Although the 15-foot fall didn’t result in serious injuries, Coach Bhardwaj acknowledged that she was still bruised from the incident.
Antim Panghal displayed exceptional form throughout the competition, including an upset victory over the 2022 World Champion, Dominique Parrish. Her remarkable journey at the World Wrestling Championships 2023 culminated in securing a bronze medal and a coveted quota for the Paris Olympics 2024.