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Paris Olympics: Antim Panghal wants to live up to country's expectations

IANS | July 09, 2024 07:01 PM

NEW DELHI: Antim Panghal will bring her prodigious wrestling talent to Paris 2024 as the 19-year-old is expected to be a medal contender in the 53 kg weight category in the upcoming Olympic Games. Panghal’s journey began at the young age of 10 years, inspired by her elder sister, a kabaddi player, who encouraged her to pursue wrestling.

In an exclusive feature on JioCinema's 'The Dreamers, ' she opened up on her wrestling journey which saw her become the first Indian woman to win gold at the World Junior Championships.

Reflecting on her early days, she said, "Before stepping onto the mat, I feel jitters, but once I am on the mat, the fear and nerves take a back seat. The spirit is all about fighting and winning."

The two-time Junior World Champion's journey met a turning point at the 2022 Commonwealth Games trials, where a lost bout sparked her to put in extra effort and enter the best stretch of her young career. "The loss at the trial for the 2022 Commonwealth Games to Vinesh Phogat was tough, it motivated me to work harder.

"I went on to win a gold at the Junior World Championships, becoming the first Indian woman to do so, and later won a silver medal at the 2023 Asian Championships. My life changed after the 2022 Commonwealth Games, " she shared.

Panghal also discussed the importance of resilience and learning from setbacks. "If I lose a match, I don't dwell on it. I motivate myself to do better and move on. I believe that the Almighty has a better plan for me, and there are lessons to be learned from my losses. The final seconds of the semifinal bout at the World Championships taught me the importance of focus and attentiveness."

Looking ahead to Paris 2024, Panghal aspires to follow in the footsteps of Sakshi Malik, India's only female Olympic wrestling medallist. "The country has placed its faith in me, and I want to live up to their expectations. Once I set my mind on something, I ensure it gets done, " she said.

Panghal created history as the first Indian woman to win gold at the Junior World Wrestling Championships in 2022, defending her title in 2023. She replicated her feat by earning a bronze medal at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships, a bronze at the 2022 Asian Games, and a silver at the 2023 Asian Wrestling Championships.

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