Former world championship medallist Pooja Dhanda is all set to return to the mat after a long hiatus due to injury and COVID-19. She will compete at the upcoming senior wrestling national championship scheduled to take place in Gonda, Nandini Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. It will be held from November 11 to 13.
Pooja Dhanda defeated Sisay’s Manju in the 59kg weight category final in Haryana’s selection trial for the nationals in Rohtak last week. The senior nationals will be Pooja Dhanda's first major competition since the July 2019 Spanish Grand Prix.
Pooja Dhanda's battle with injury and COVID-19
Pooja Dhanda had a phenomenal rise in 2018. She won silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia. She carried her form to the world championships in Budapest, Hungary, where she became India’s fourth woman wrestler to win a medal at the marquee event.
However, the next year saw a steady decline in her performance. The reason being recurring injuries. It spoiled her chances of earning a berth in 57kg in the 2019 Olympic cycle.
For the major part of 2019 and 2020 – which also got spoiled due to COVID-19 – Pooja Dhanda spent her time nursing a shoulder and knee injury. She did compete at the Olympic trials held in January 2020 with an injury but was thumped by Anshu Malik, who was making her debut for the senior team.
Just when things looked better this year, the Haryana wrestler was tested positive for COVID-19.
"I have been found corona positive. Those who have come in my contact should get themselves tested and self-isolate. I have also isolated myself," Pooja Dhanda wrote on Twitter.
But with the Olympics in Tokyo over, she is all set to resume her season with sight on the Asian and Commonwealth Games next year. Her main competition will be Geeta Phogat – she is making a comeback – and world medallist Sarita Mor.
Pooja Dhanda, a wrestling coach in Haryana Sports Department, is currently posted at the Mahabir Stadium in Hisar.