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19-yr-old Antim Panghal makes India proud as WFI wrestles to come clean

This young grappler hails from Hisar in Haryana

New Delhi, Sep 3, 2023- “Antim nahi vo medals ki shuruwat hai (not the end, it is the beginning of a medal haul)!”

When we reached Baghana, Hisar, that is how the people reacted when inquired about young grappler Antim Panghal.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is going through its toughest time following its suspension by the United World Wrestling (world body), while its former President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is facing sexual harassment charges.

But amid all this mess, one wrestler — Antim Panghal — brought some positive news for the country.

The 19-year-old is another name in the long list of female athletes who are setting high standards. She is showcasing her talent at the international level and bringing lots of pride to the country with her sensational performances.

Antim is the youngest of four sisters. Her parents were hoping for a boy instead, so they named her ‘Antim’. Sports have the tendency to give Indian women an outlet to break stereotypes and fight society’s unrealistic demands to chart a path for themselves.

And with the support of her family, Antim made herself a name in the wrestling arena at a very young age.

She holds the record for being the first ever Indian woman to become the U-20 world champion. She was only 17 back then. She achieved the feat by defeating Kazakhstan’s Atlyn Shagayeva by an 8-0 score at the U-20 World Wrestling Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.

This year, she became the first Indian woman to become a two-time U-20 world champion in Amman. She competes in the 53kg category of freestyle wrestling at the moment.

Antim will now lead a 30-member Indian challenge at the World Wrestling Championships scheduled in Belgrade, Serbia, from September 16 to 24.

Antim had won the Asian Games trial in July as well, but was kept as a standby for senior Vinesh Phogat in the women’s 53 kg category. Vinesh was granted direct entry to the team despite missing the trials.

However, in what was a double boost for the youngster, the Sports Ministry included her name in the list of Asian Games-bound Indian athletes as Vinesh was unavailable after suffering a knee injury.

The ‘Shuruat’ (beginning) looks promising for ‘Antim’… (Agency)

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