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Olympics: Spirited Sakshi ends India’s medal hunt

Star wrestler Sakshi Malik brought an end to India’s long wait for a medal at the ongoing Rio Olympics, clinching bronze in the Women’s Freestyle 58kg category even as the Indian challenge in other disciplines continue to falter.

The 23-year-old from Rohtak overturned a 0-5 deficit in a hectic second round to script an 8-5 victory over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan in the bronze medal bout at the Carioca Arena 2 here on Wednesday.

It was a rousing display of fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude from the Indian.

Aisuluu was clearly the superior wrestler in the totally one-sided opening round, displaying impressive strength and technique to take five points and open up a formidable lead.

But Sakshi — who has previously shown a knack of staging strong comebacks — was a totally transformed grappler in the second round, taking eight consecutive points to send the sizable number of Indian fans in the stands into wild delirium.

Sakshi, who had also finished on the podium at the 2015 Asian Championships, created history by becoming the first Indian female wrestler to clinch an Olympic medal.

Kaori Icho of Japan won the gold medal in the category while Russia’s Valeria Koblova — who had defeated Sakshi in the quarter-finals — took the silver.

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