Mohit Kumar on Wednesday became the first Indian wrestler to win junior world champion since 2019 after edging past Russia’s Eldar Akhmaduninov in the 61kg final while Priya lined herself up to be country’s only second woman grappler to grab the title. Mohit was trailing 0-6 in the final but the Russian, who is competing as an individual athlete, lost steam as the bout progressed and the Indian took full advantage to reel off nine straight points.
Deepak Punia, who has now made a transition to the senior circuit, was the last Indian to win a world junior championship in 2019. Before that, Palwinder Cheema (2001) and Ramesh Kumar (2001) had grabbed the world junior title. So Mohit is only the fourth Indian wrestler to win the coveted crown.
Mohit got on board with a takedown move just before the end of the first period and after the break it was one-way traffic.
Mohit quickly scored push-out points to unsettle his tiring rival, who even sought a medical timeout to catch his breath.
Eldar’s defence fell apart with Mohitstaying aggressive.
Jaideep won the 74kg bronze with a win over Kyrgyszstan’s Zhakshylyk Ruslanovich Baitashov.
The Indian men’s freestyle team has so far won five medals.
Sagar Jaglan (79kg) had won a silver, while Deepak Chahal (97kg) and Sagar (57kg) had won bronze on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Rajat Ruhal will be in contention to win a bronze in 125kg. He is up against Karanveer Singh Mahil from Canada.
Meanwhile, in the women’s competition, Priya reached the 76kg final with a commanding technical superiority win over American Kennedy Alexis Blades in the semifinals.
It was Blades, who started on an aggressive note but Priya began the scoring and did not look after her first move.
On Thursday she will be up against Germany’s Laura Celine Kuehen in the title clash.
Last year, Antim Panghal had become the first Indian woman wrestler to become world champion in 53kg category. She will open her title defence against Poland’s Nikola Monika Wisniewska in the pre-quarters.
Among other Indian women in the fray on Wednesday, only Arju could make the medal round as Priyanshi Prajapat (50kg), Jyoti (55kg) and Nitika (59kg) faded early.
Arju lost her semifinal 3-6 to Elizaveta Petliakova and will fight for a bronze.
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