World Wrestling Championships 2018: India Look to Sakshi Malik for Change in Fortunes
File Image | Sakshi Malik | (Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Budapest, Oct 23: India will expect a change of fortune in women's freestyle event when Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik enters the Papp László Sportaréna for her 62-kilogram bout in the World Championships here on Wednesday. If the Khel Ratna awardee does manage to climb the podium, she will be the first Indian woman wrestler to etch her name in the history books with a medal in the senior world championships.

Along with Sakshi, the other three that will enter the fray on Wednesday include Ritu Phogat (59 kg), Pinki (53 kg) and Pooja Dhanda (57 kg) on the concluding day of the freestyle events.

On the eve of her bout, Sakshi was upbeat and was looking forward to it. "The field here looks great. I have prepared well and ready for the challenge. I will do my best to reach the medal round," said the 26-year-old.

Equally optimistic was Ritu Phogat, the under-23 world championship's silver medal winner. "I have trained hard for this day, and I won't let the chance go by," said Ritu, who replaced her injured sister Vinesh, in the squad.

The expectations on the remaining four wrestlers have risen, particularly after the other six, including four today, faded away without making an impression.

On the second day of the women's freestyle event, Ritu (65 kg) had managed to enter the quarter-finals only to falter when Petra Maarit Olli of Finland won 6-2 on points. The winner secured three each in the two periods while the Indian got one each. Ritu had beaten Ilona Prokopevniuk of Ukraine 5-4 after getting a first-round bye.

Similarly, Navjot Kaur won her first-round bout 4-2 in 68 kg against Wen Ling Chen of Chinese Taipei, but lost the pre-quarterfinals to Koumba Selene Fanta Larroque of France without a single point. The Frenchwoman won 4-0.

Rajni did not even last one round - she received the first-round bye - as she went down to Martina Kuenz of Austria 2-0 in 72 kg category. In the 76 kg class, Kiran lost her pre-quarterfinal bout to Kazakhstan's Elmira Syzdykova by technical fall (2-12) after defeating Chinese Taipei's Hui Tsz Chang 6-0 in the qualification stage.