NEW DELHI: Promising wrestler Anshu Malik won India’s first medal – a silver – at the ongoing Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia. The 19-year-old put up a valiant fight before losing to reigning European champion Anastasia Nichita of Moldova 5-1 in the 57kg women’s freestyle final.
On the road to the final, Anshu defeated Alyona Kolesnik of Azerbaijan 4-2 in the qualification round, then won against Laura Mertens of Germany 3-1 in the quarters. In the semifinal bout, she overpowered Veronika Chumikova of Russia 7-4.
This was Anshu’s third international tournament at the senior level and she has won a medal in each of them. The girl from Nidani village in Jind, Haryana, made her senior debut earlier this year at the Matteo Pellicone Memorial meet in Rome, where she had reached the final to bag silver. She followed it with a bronze at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Delhi.
Anshu comes from a family of wrestlers. Her father, Dharamvir Malik, was a wrestler himself and represented the CISF for a while before calling it quits in order to support his daughter. He now grows wheat on a 6-acre land.
Anshu’s uncle Pawan Kumar has also been a decorated wrestler. He has been a SAFF Games gold medallist and a Haryana Kesari.
Anshu trains under renowned wrestling coach Jagdish Sheoran at the Chaudhary Bharat Singh Memorial Sports School in Nidani.
“When Anshu was 11, she saw her brother going for wrestling practice. She insisted that she wanted to go as well. We are from a family of wrestlers and I didn’t discourage her one bit,” Dharamvir told TOI.
The 57 kg is an Olympic category where India has not earned a quota for the Tokyo Olympics yet. Anshu is expected to fight for a spot in the Indian team for the Olympic qualifiers next year against former world championships bronze medallist Pooja Dhanda.