Pooja Dhanda Bags Bronze At Wrestling World Championship

Pooja Dhanda

Pooja Dhanda on Thursday became only the fourth Indian woman grappler to win a medal at the Wrestling World Championship. She grabbed a bronze with a 10-7 win over the 2017 European champion Grace Jacob Bullen.

This is India’s second medal at the ongoing championship after Bajrang Punia’s silver medal performance in the men’s freestyle 65kg category.

Pooja Dhanda became only the fourth Indian woman grappler to win a medal at the World Championship

The 24-year-old Pooja executed a four-point throw in each of the two periods in the 57kg contest. She was one of the two wrestlers in contention for a medal and delivered the best performance of her career. Norway’s Grace is the 2014 Youth Olympic Champion.

Earlier this year, Pooja had also won a silver the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. The other three players to win in the World Championship before Pooja are Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta (2012) and Babita Phogat (2012).

Before Pooja’s bout, Ritu Phogat lost her bronze medal bouts and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik too failed to reach the medal round. She lost the repechage round 2-3 to Hungary’s Marianna Sastin.

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Talking to the media, Pooja’s father Ajmer Singh said, “She suffered the ACL injury during practice with Geeta Phogat in Lucknow in 2015 and underwent surgery. After the operation, she would practise moves while lying on the bed. She would always tell us that she will make a comeback. Today when Bhullen made the leg attack, we knew that opponents would try that but Pooja had told us that she had a counter move.”

Pooja’s father works as a driver in the Haryana Animal Husbandry department in Hisar. Initially, Pooja had trained in judo. She later trained under wrestling coach Subash Chander Soni at the Mahavir Stadium in Hisar in 2004. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Pooja won a total of four gold medals in judo in junior nationals. She also has a bronze medal in Asian Cadet Judo Championship in Hyderabad in 2007. The following year, Pooja won the gold medal in Asian Cadet Judo Championship in Yemen before winning her first international medal in wrestling in 2009, a bronze medal in Asian Cadet Championships.

She won the silver medal in the first edition of Youth Olympics Games in 2010. In 2013, Pooja defeated Babita Phogat in the final of the senior nationals and won a gold medal. She also bagged a bronze came in Asian Wrestling Championships in 2014 in Astana.

Last year, Pooja became the national champion once again, her first since 2013 before scoring wins over Olympic and World champion Helen Maroulis twice in the Pro Wrestling league in January early this year.

Way to go, champ!

Feature Image Credit: Twitter

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