Shivani Pawar fought like a warrior at the U23 World Championships and she is now a step away from creating history in Belgrade, Serbia. The 23-year-old wrestler defeated reigning U23 European champion Mariia Tiumerekova of Russia 4-4 by a fall in the women’s 50kg competition.
Shivani Pawar said she is on a mission in Serbia - to bring home India’s first U23 World Championship gold. Speaking to Sportskeeda from Serbia, the elated youngster from Madhya Pradesh said:
“I just thought of winning gold and that was my driving force throughout the competition.”
The youngster was competing in her first competition since the 2018 Junior World Championship. Not counted among the pre-competition favorites, she was tested to the limit before reaching the final.
Shivani Pawar made a stunning comeback in her opening bout. She was then nearly eliminated against U23 European silver medalist Anastasiya Yanotava of Belarus as she trailed 0-9. But the 23-year-old managed to get the Belarusian wrestler’s shoulders on the mat for more than three seconds to win by fall.
She faced another deficit – 3-6 to Tetiana Profatilova of Ukraine in her second round before scoring 10 straight points over a couple of minutes to win the match.
In the semi-final against Tiumerekova, Shivani Pawar scored early, scoring two points for exposure as she turned the Russian over, even as she attacked. However, Tiumerekova came back strongly, picking the Indian for four points.
Pawar countered almost immediately and turned the Russian once against, this time to pin her shoulders and pick up the win.
U23 Women’s coach Randhir Singh said the plan during against the Russian wrestler was to be aggressive and have a low center of gravity.
“I just told her to be aggressive from the start. I also, asked her to keep herself near the ground and hands low. This would decrease the chances of a leg attack and open opportunities to counter. She fought really well,” he said.
As she looks to create history on Thursday, Shivani Pawar has already joined a select group of six Indian wrestlers to have also won silver at the U23 World Championships. Olympic silver medalist Ravi Dahiya and Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia are also part of this group.
Shivani Pawar to face Emily King Shilson
Shivani Pawar will face USA’s Emily King Shilson in the final. The American had an easier route to the final compared to her Indian counterpart. Shilson, though, is not an easy opponent. She is the reigning junior world champion and neither of her two bouts at Belgrade have gone the distance.
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