NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan — After becoming the first Indian wrestler to secure an Olympic quota for the 2020 Tokyo Games, Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat Sept. 18 ended her medal drought at the Wrestling World Championships by winning a bronze here.
Vinesh beat two-time world bronze medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece by fall in the bronze medal bout of 53 kg freestyle category. She is only the fourth Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the meet.
Earlier, Vinesh won both her matches in the repechage round of the 53-kg weight category to seal a quota for Tokyo Olympics.
Vinesh first defeated former World Championships bronze medallist Yuliya Khalvadzhy of Ukraine 5-0 and then went on to upset World silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt 8-2 in the second bout of the repechage round to enter bronze medal play-off bout where she faced Greece's two-time World Championships medallist Maria Prevolaraki.
A day earlier, the 25-year-old began her quest for a maiden medal from the world event with a thunderous 13-0 win over Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sofia Mattsson of Sweden. Even though it sparked hopes of gold, her next bout against the reigning world champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan proved tough.
The Japanese kept the Indian on the back-foot and prevented her from showing her usual aggression, resulting in a 0-7 loss for the Commonwealth Games gold medallist. This was the second consecutive defeat that Vinesh suffered at the hands of Mukaida following the Asian Championships.
However, with Mukaida managing to reach the final, Vinesh was presented with yet another shot at a medal. And this time the Indian didn't walk off the mat empty handed.