Vinesh Phogat picked up India's second gold of the Asian Games with a comfortable win against Yuki Irie of Japan in the women's freestyle 50kg in Jakarta on Monday. This is Vinesh's second medal at the Asian Games, having picked up bronze in Incheon four years ago. She also became only the fifth Indian woman to win an Asian Games medal in wrestling, and the first among those to clinch gold.
Vinesh began the bout in an explosive manner, nearly pinning her opponent inside the first two minutest, but Irie, whom Vinesh had also beaten earlier this year in the semifinals of the Asian Championships in Kyrgyzstan en route to a silver medal, was able to avert that fate.
Vinesh led 4-0 at the interval, and lost a point to passivity in the second round. She held on to pick up a 6-2 win; Irie first scored a point by pushing Vinesh off the mat, but Vinesh then pounced on her Japanese opponent to pick two points in the last second of the bout.
In many ways, Vinesh looked primed for the top spot from her first bout itself, having beaten Sun Yanan of China 8-2 in the pre-quarterfinals, an opponent against whom she had suffered a horrific knee injury during the Rio Olympics two years ago. She then beat Kim Hyung Joo of South Korea and Dauletbike Yakhshimuratova of Uzbekistan in successive bouts on technical superiority, without dropping a single point in either bout.
Sakshi, Pooja disappoint
Sakshi Malik, Pooja Dhanda and Sumit Malik all came within one win of assuring themselves of medals, each of them losing in the bronze medal bouts.
Sakshi, especially, was unlucky to lose out to Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan in the semifinals by a close margin of 9-7 in the women's 62kg category, the same wrestler she had beaten to pick up bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Sakshi was then outclassed 12-2 by Rim Jong Sim of North Korea in the bronze medal bout.
Pooja Dhanda led early in her bronze medal bout against Katsuki Sakagami of Japan, but eventually saw her opponent reverse the momentum with a judicious mix of attack and defence to win 6-1. Sumit, the only man to feature in a bronze medal playoff in the 125kg category on Monday, lost to Uzbekistan's Davit Modzmanashvili by a 2-0 margin, with both points conceded due to passivity.