Antim Panghal will play in the Olympic Games at the age of just 20, will challenge in the 53 kg category

The country’s emerging young wrestler Antim Panghal is all set to present India’s challenge in the Paris Olympics at the age of just 20. Antim Panghal is a two-time Under-20 World Champion, Asian Games, Asian Championship and Senior World Wrestling Championship medalist. Antim is also the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the Under-20 Wrestling World Championship. National level Kabaddi player Sarita played a major role in drawing Antim’s attention towards wrestling. When Antim was just 10 years old, Sarita took her to Mahavir Stadium in Hisar city for a wrestling program.

Antim Panghal was born on 31 August 2004 in Hisar, Haryana. Antim Panghal’s father’s name is Ram Niwas Panghal and mother’s name is Krishna Kumari. Antim Panghal has three elder sisters and a younger brother. Sarita, the eldest of the Panghal siblings, was a national-level Kabaddi player and introduced Antim to wrestling at the age of just 10. Antim performed brilliantly in this sport. Antim’s former coach Roshni Devi inspired her father to come forward and support his youngest daughter in the sport. Ram Niwas had full faith in Antim and he soon converted his father’s faith into results.

The young wrestler became the 49kg Under-15 national champion in 2018 and won a bronze medal at the Under-15 Asian Wrestling Championships in Japan later that year. After this, Antim won several Under-17 national titles. In the year 2020, Antim Panghal was only 17 years old. During this time, he defeated older opponents to win a gold medal at the Junior Asian Championships and a silver medal at the Under-23 Asian Championships. However, Antim Panghal had to face a lot of difficulties to move forward in the senior circuit. The 53 kg weight category also features Indian wrestling legend Vinesh Phogat, who is a three-time Commonwealth Games champion, two-time World Championship bronze medalist and former Asian Games and Asian champion.

Hence, Anim had limited opportunities on the international stage. In 2022, Anim Panghal challenged his senior compatriot. In the selection trials for the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, Anim almost knocked Vinesh out of the Indian team. While in the final, Anim trailed Vinesh 3-0, his inexperience allowed Vinesh to level the score at 3-3 and win the bout on criteria. Vinesh then won the women’s 53kg title in Birmingham. Meanwhile, young Indian wrestler Anim Panghal did not let this get to him and won his first senior gold medal by winning the women’s 53kg category at the 2022 Zouhair Sghair Ranking Series. The Indian wrestler defeated USA’s Dominique Parish on her way to the title in Tunis, who became the world champion in the category a few months later.

A few months later, Antim created history by winning the gold medal at the 2022 Under-20 World Wrestling Championships in Sofia, becoming the first Indian junior world champion. She defended her title in Amman in 2023 and achieved the distinction of becoming the only Indian to become a two-time junior world champion. At the Asian Championships 2023 in Astana, Antim won the silver medal after losing to Japan’s Akari Fujinami (a wrestler who remains undefeated to date). That year, Antim finally made her World Championships debut and won a bronze medal. With this win, Antim Panghal also secured a Paris 2024 Olympic quota for India in women’s 53kg wrestling. Antim was included in the Indian contingent for the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou after Vinesh Phogat withdrew from the Asian Games 2023 due to an injury at the last minute and the youngster won a bronze medal in her first continental appearance.

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