Wrestler Antim Panghal Hopes To Translate U20 World Championship Success At The Asian Games

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Antim Panghal, who recently became the first Indian woman wrestler to win back-to-back gold medals at the U20 World Wrestling Championships, is keen to give a good account at the senior level at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Up against Ukraine’s Mariia Yefremova in the 53kg final of the U20 championships in Amman, Jordan last week, Antim, 19, knew she was in for a tough outing, despite dropping just two points on the way to the final.

Using her quick movements and double-leg attacks, Antim dominated Mariia and sealed the bout with a dominant 4-0 win to achieve the historic milestone.

“The last time I went for the U20 World Championships, I was informed by my coaching team that no Indian woman wrestler had won a gold medal, and I was the first one.”

“This time, too, I wanted to more more historic moment and become the first Indian female wrestler to win the gold medal twice on the World stage. I am really proud of the achievement and I hope to continue to make the nation proud,” said Antim in a virtual interaction facilitated by JSW Sports.

But the road for Antim in 2023 has barely begun. Currently, in her debut year of the senior circuit, she will be aiming to earn a qualification for the senior World Championships when she competes at the trials, set to take place between August 25 and 26, in Patiala.

Antim, hailing from Hisar, has already clinched her berth for the 53kg category at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, which will take place between September 23 and October 8.

“Training has been going really well and I have received a great deal of support from my coaching staff, my peers, and JSW Sports at every stage. I will be competing at the World’s Trial on 25th August and hope to earn a chance to compete in my first Senior World Championships.”

“For the Asian Games, we have already started training and we will soon be holding a training camp as well. I will work even harder to ensure I can earn a podium finish in the Continental tournament,” she added.

With the upcoming Asian Games her debut in the prestigious championship, Antim is aware of not taking any opponent lightly. “All the countries have equally strong medal contenders. I will be competing at the Asian Games for the first time. I am yet to see the level of competition that awaits me in such a big competition. I am focusing on my training to ensure I am prepared in every way,” she said.

An important aspect of her routine these days is yoga and meditation, which Antim believes helps her in keeping her nerves calm, while also ensuring she remains relaxed despite preparing for multiple tournaments, simultaneously.

“Now that I’ve won a few medals, there is the running thought that at any moment I may not be on the podium. But at the same time, I also feel motivated by this pressure. I keep telling myself that if I can win Gold in one competition, then I can continue to achieve the same milestone in other tournaments as well. Yoga and meditation have also helped me a lot in dealing with the rigorous aspects of training and competition,” she added.

Further detailing her everyday routine, Antim said she begins her training in the early hours of the day and keeps a strict diet to manage her weight cuts for the competitions. “I wake up at 4 AM and go for training at 5 AM, and return at 9 AM. During training, I eat almonds, and after returning I eat porridge (daliya) and roti.”

“A week before competitions, I cut down on milk and anything made from milk. After my training, I also take time to do a bit of meditation and yoga. I manage to get some sleep at noon, and then return for training in the evening,” she said.

Transitioning from junior to senior level is always a challenging aspect for any athlete and Antim feels she needs to continue putting in even more hard work on the training grounds to compete at the highest levels.

“I have been winning at the Junior level but it is completely different at the senior level. There is always slightly more pressure at this stage, as there are more eyes on you. The hard work has just begun. But it feels great to see the support that I have been receiving from the country and I hope to continue the success story at the senior level,” Antim signed off.

(IANS)

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