Sakshi Malik, a bronze medalist at Rio 2016, earned her first international gold medal in almost five years on Friday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, at the Bolat Turlykhanov Cup 2022 wrestling competition.
Divya Kakran, a two-time Asian champion, and Mansi Ahlawat, a two-time Asian champion, won gold in the 68kg and 57kg categories, respectively. Meanwhile, Pooja Sihag took bronze in the 76kg, bringing India’s total medal count at the event to five – three gold and two bronze.
Sakshi Malik, who competed in the women’s 62kg category, won the gold medal by pinning former junior Asian champion Irina Kuznetsova of Kazakhstan in the final.
Sakshi Malik had previously blanked Irina Kuznetsova in the opening match 10 – 0 due to technical dominance before defeating Rushana Abdirasulova of Uzbekistan 9 – 3. Tserenchimed Sukhee of Mongolia gave her a walkover in the round-robin.
Sakshi Malik is on a return track after losing out on a ticket at the Tokyo Olympics. She recently made the Commonwealth Games 2022 cut.
The two-time Commonwealth Games medalist’s most recent gold medal came at the 2017 Commonwealth Championships. Sakshi Malik has won two bronze medals at Asian championships since then, in 2020 and 2022. Because there were only four wrestlers in the women’s 68kg division, Divya Kakran competed in the Nordic round system (each wrestler facing others in a round-robin style).
Mansi Ahlawat, who competed in the women’s 57kg division, won the gold medal without conceding a single point during the competition.
After defeating Laura Almaganbetova 10-0 in the semi-finals, Mansi defeated Emma Tissina of Kazakhstan 3-0 in the final. Mansi Ahlawat received a bye against Mongolian Sumiya Erdenechimeg in her round-robin matches after defeating Emma Tissina 6-0 to qualify for the knockouts.
Pooja Sihag, however, had to settle for bronze in the 76kg after falling 10-0 in the semi-finals to eventual gold medalist Aiperi Medet Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan.