Antim Panghal aims for Asian Games and World Championships glory after triumph over Vinesh Phogat in trials

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Young wrestler Antim Panghal is keen to make a statement in the Asian Games and the ensuing World Championships after taking on veteran Vinesh Phogat in the Asian Games trials.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), which is now managed by the Indian Olympic Association-instituted ad hoc body, issued a challenge to Vinesh after the latter was given a straight entrance into the Asian Games squad. Panghal participates in the 53kg division of the women's freestyle event.

Vinesh, who underwent surgery in Mumbai for a knee ailment, withdrew from the Asian Games a few days ago, making room for Panghal to join the Hangzhou-bound team.

After returning from an outstanding performance at the U-20 Women's Wrestling World Championships in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday, Panghal told reporters: "My joy was amplified when I learned that I've been selected for the Asian Games, as Vinesh di (Vinesh Phogat) had a knee injury, and I was on standby."

“I’m overjoyed with this opportunity. Now, my focus shifts to preparing for the Asian Games and the Seniors World Championship trials.” As she successfully defended her 53kg title, Panghal, 19, made history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win consecutive U-20 world championships.

“We secured the first position in the U-20 Women’s Wrestling World Championship. Just like the previous time, I clinched the gold medal once again. I’m truly elated about this achievement,” she said.

The performance of his charges impressed coach Maha Singh Rao.

“We are really elated that for the first time we won the U-20 World Championship title, where Japan always dominated, but we proved ourselves as the best this time.

“We are really happy that even PM (Narendra) Modi and the Sports Ministry (headed by Anurag Thakur) tweeted to wish these kids. This is really a proud moment for us and I am sure these kids will clinch medals in 2024 and 2028 Olympics,” he said.

Savita, who took home the gold in the 62 kg division, has her sights set on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Paris.

“I am really happy, it was really fun, it was a great journey, the bouts were tough, it was really tough with Japan. My next target is Olympics, and from next year, I will play in the seniors 62 kg category,” she said.

India won seven out of the ten medals in the women's wrestling competition, becoming the tournament's top-finishing nation for the first time.

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