Rio de Janeiro, Aug 18:
Sakshi Malik brought an end to India’s long wait for a medal at the ongoing Rio Olympics, clinching bronze in the Women’s Freestyle 58kg category with a spirited comeback victory over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan.
The 23-year-old from Rohtak overturned a 0-5 deficit in a hectic second round to win 8-5 in the bronze medal bout at the Carioca Arena 2 here on Wednesday.
It was a rousing display of fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude from the Indian.
Aisuluu was clearly the superior wrestler in the totally one-sided opening round, displaying impressive strength and technique to take five points and open up a formidable lead.
But Sakshi — who has previously shown a knack of staging strong comebacks — was a totally transformed grappler in the second round , taking eight consecutive points to send the sizable number of Indian fans in the stands into wild delirium.
Sakshi’s medal capped another day of heartbreaks for India including an unfortunate injury to Vinesh in the women’s 48kg Freestyle category that forced her out of the competition.
In the bronze medal play-off in the Women’s Freestyle 58kg category, Aisuluu tried to force the early initiative with an attempted leg hold but Sakshi defended successfully.
The Kyrgyz grappler displayed impressive strength and was more active in the opening stages which forced Sakshi to go on the defensive.
However, the referee invoked the passivity rule against Sakshi which handed the Kyrgyz the first point.
Aisuluu then made a successful takedown to bag another two points. Aisuluu continued to pile on the pressure and bagged another couple of points with another successful tackle to build up a healthy 5-0 lead at the break.
Sakshi made a superb comeback in the second round, turning a defensive position into offensive to bag two points before flipping the Kyrgyz to bag another couple of points.
With the Momentum firmly behind her, Sakshi continued to pile on the pressure before drawing level with another two-pointer.
With just seconds remaining in the bout, the Indian pulled off another takedown to take the lead and make sure of the win.
Earlier, Sakshi had defeated Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia 12-3 in the Repechage Round 2 to move within striking distance of a medal.
The Haryana wrestler was too superior for the 22-year-old Mongolian and dominated right from the start.
Sakshi grabbed the early advantage and effected a takedown to take a 2-0 lead.
But a loss of balance from Sakshi allowed the Mongolian to take two points and make a comeback. Sakhshi did catch Orkhon off-guard with an arm-lock towards the end of the first round, but could not capitalise on that.
Sakshi grabbed the initiative right at the start of the second round, baging two points with double leg hold.
But Sakshi’s efforts to preserve her lead by decreasing the pace cost her dearly as the referee invoked the passivity rule against her which allowed Orkhon to bag another point.
Orkhon then tried to go for a leg hold but Sakshi came up with an effective counter-attack to bring the Mongolian down before rolling her over to bolster her lead.
With a comfortable 10-7 lead behind her, Sakshi produced a strong finish by coming up with another take down in the closing seconds. (IANS)