In the 53kg division final on Friday in Sofia, Bulgaria, Antim Panghal defeated Kazakhstan’s Atlyn Shagayeva 8-0 to become the first Indian woman wrestler to ever win a gold medal at the U-20 global championships.
A girl from India won first place on the podium for the first time in the competition’s 34-year history. The youngest of four siblings, Antim, outclassed Shagayeva with takedowns and leg attacks to win the title of world junior champion.
The 17-year-old, who comes from the Haryana town of Bhagana in the Hisar district, won all of her fights by a wide margin, including the prized victory over European champion Olivia Andrich, whom she defeated with superior technique (11-0).
In the quarterfinals, Antim had defeated Ayaka Kimura of Japan by pin, and in the semifinals, she easily defeated Nataliia Klivchutska of Ukraine (11-2). After seeing her oldest sister, Sarita, go to the senior ranks as a national-level kabaddi player with the Indian team, Antim was motivated to pursue a career in athletics.
“I was unaware of the record. My coaches didn’t let me know that I was the first Indian woman wrestler to ever win the championships until after I had won the final. Each person feels pleased of themselves. I’m grateful to my parents for letting me pursue wrestling, especially didi (sister Sarita), who has consistently encouraged and supported me. My goal is to bring my nation an Olympic medal, and I’m just getting started “After winning, Antim exclaimed with pleasure.
Sonam Malik and Priyanka earned silver medals in their respective weight categories of 62 kg and 65 kg, while Reetika (72 kg) and Sito (57 kg) settled for bronze medals each after winning their repechage rounds. The men’s freestyle wrestlers from India have won a silver and six bronze medals so far at the U-20 Worlds, while the women’s grapplers have earned one gold, two silver medals, and an equal amount of bronze.