Sakshi Malik clinched a silver medal for India in the Asian Wrestling Championship after losing to Japan's Risako Kawai in the women's 60kg category in New Delhi on Friday. Joining her were compatriots Vinesh Phogat (55 kg) and Divya Kakran (69 kg) who also settled for silver in their respective categories. Sakshi Malik, who was making a comeback to the international circuit after the Olympics, looked a little out of touch as she went down to the Rio Games gold medallist Kawai (63kg) 10-0 in just 2 minutes and 44 seconds.
Sakshi had made history last year winning a bronze medal at the Rio Games - the first Indian woman wrestler to do so. However, on Friday, she could not counter the challenge from the strong Japanese grappler. "It was a bad day, but I hope I will do better in future tournaments," Sakshi said after the match.
Competing for the first time in the 60kg category after jumping up the weight division from 58kg, Sakshi's route to the final was easy. The 24-year-old got the better of Nabira Esenbaeva of Uzbekistan 6-2 in the quarterfinal and then defeated Kazakhstan's Ayaulym Kassymova 15-3 in her semifinal bout to cruise into the gold medal round.
Vinesh Phogat lost 4-8 to Japan's Sae Nanjo to settle for silver. She was returning from a career-threatening knee injury. "It is difficult to come back to the mat after having such a serious injury. But it was good experience. I am happy with the silver as I know how difficult it is to stand on the podium after an injury," Vinesh said.
Divya Kakran (69 kg) was defeated by Japan's Sara Dosho to also finish her the tournament with a silver. She was beaten 0-8.
In the 48kg category, Ritu Phogat settled for the bronze medal after getting a walkover from China's Yanan Sun, who pulled out with an injury.
(With PTI/IANS inputs)