Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.
India’s Sakshi Malik took on Mariana Cherdivara Esanu of Moldova in the Round of 16 of Women’s 58 kg freestyle wrestling. The battle of the two 23-year-olds promised to be an evenly poised one, with the Moldovan having won her first match against Ecuadorian Lissette Antes via an easy 3-0 scoreline.
After a nail-biting contest against Johanna Mattsson of Sweden in her qualifiers that saw her overcome a 4-point gap to secure the bout 5-4 right at the death, Sakshi was certainly looking to stretch forward the momentum to find a place in the last eight stage of her category. But Mariana had other ideas as she went 3-0 up in the very second minute, leaving all the catching up for Malik to do.
A lead which seemed very difficult to chase down, particularly because of the precision with which Mariana had resisted in the 1st period, suddenly looked within reach early into the 2nd period when the Moldovan picked up a passivity warning and had to attack Sakshi within 30 seconds. The defiant Indian capitalised on the opportunity to score her 1st point by holding her opponent off throughout the half-minute penalty window, and followed it up with a fantastic 4-point takedown of Mariana onto the mat.
Leading 5-4 with less than a minute on the clock, Mariana earned her 5th point which brought them back even, but that proved insufficient as her Indian rival won the contest by virtue of the higher scoring move that she’d executed in the 2nd period. With this victory, Sakshi progressed to the last eight where she will square off against Valeriia Koblova of Russia for a semi-final spot
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