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Wrestling: Priya Malik wins gold in U20 World Championship; 2nd Indian to do so in Amman

India’s Priya Malik made history in women’s wrestling by emerging as world champion in the 2023 U20 World Championships.

Former World Cadet champion Priya improved on the silver medal she won in the 2022 U20 World Championships, winning the gold medal in the women’s 76kg category, becoming only the second Indian women wrestler to win gold at the Junior World championships.

In the women’s 76 kg final in Amman, Priya Malik defeated Laura Celine Kuehn of Germany 6-0 on points in another dominant display by the 18-year-old from Nidani village of Jind district of Haryana.

Priya, the two-time U17 world champion, was clearly a better version of her 2022 self with solid defense and diverse attacks. Unlike her final against Ayano Moro of Japan last year, Malik had more attacking options and scored early as Kuehn failed to get to Malik’s legs most of the time.

“I was much better prepared for this final than last year,” Malik said. “I worked on my power and even defense so I can take this world champion belt home,” Priya Malik was quoted as saying by United World Wrestling (UWW) on its website.

Daughter of an Indian Army veteran, Priya Malik won India’s second gold of the tournament, adding to the gold that male wrestler Mohit Kumar won by defeating Eldar Akhmadudinov of Russia 908 in the final, becoming the first Indian wrestler after Deepak Punia in 2019 to be crowned the U20 World Championship.

Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Thakur congratulated Priya Malik on her success. The 18-year-old wrestler had earlier won the gold medal in the 2021 World Cadet Wrestling Championship in Women’s 73 kg and had also won a bronze medal in the Asian wrestling championship held earlier this year in Astana.

“Congratulations to #TOPScheme wrestler Priya Malik on being crowned World Champion in the Women’s 76kg, scripting history to become only the 2nd Indian Women Wrestler to win GOLD at the Junior Worlds,” Thakur said in a tweet on Friday.

“Hats off to her incredible skills and indomitable spirit. Without dropping a single point throughout the tournament, brilliantly pinning her ???????? counterpart in the semifinal bout and claiming victory in style and confidence, she magnificently converted her SILVER to a GOLD this time.

“Fantastic effort, Champ! Wishing you continued success in the future,” the minister said in his tweet.

In the semifinals, Priya Malik defeated Alexis Blades Kennedy of the United States 10-0 in a dominant performance. She had also blanked Aliaksandra Kazalova of Russia 11-0 by points in the quarterfinals.

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