Vinesh Phogat beat Sweden’s Joana Malmgren to win bronze at the Wrestling World Championships in Belgrade on Wednesday.
Vinesh, who won bronze in 2019, became the first Indian woman to win two medals at Wrestling World Championships.
The bronze was a boost after she began her campaign with a shock loss to Mongolia’s Khulan Batkhuyag. In her first bout, she barely put up a fight as Batkhuyag won 7-0. Vinesh would later thank Batkhuyag as the Mongolian made it to the final, which meant Vinesh still had a shot at a bronze medal via repechage.
In her first repechage bout, Vinesh beat Kazakhstan’s Zhuldyz Eshimova, a bronze winner at the 2022 Senior Asian Championships, in all of 74 seconds.
Vinesh then got a lucky break as Azerbaijan’s Leyla Gurbanova pulled out of their second-round repechage match owing to injury. It cleared the path for Vinesh, who was now within sniffing distance of a second Worlds medal.
The Indian looked the aggressor from the get-go as she notched up an early 2-0 lead and took control of the bout. Malmgren, the 2021 Junior World Champion, was unable to clear out her left arm from Vinesh’s grasp and the Indian dug in hard to scalp the takedown.
Early in the second half, Vinesh got a verbal warning from the referee for being too passive and that spurred on the Indian: she launched into an explosive move and bagged two more points to expand her lead to 4-0. It showed that Vinesh could perhaps score at will. She deliberately slowed down the tempo again before rolling over Malmgren to take lead 6-0. It was a tactically sound bout from Vinesh, not giving her opponent many chances.