It took three days at the U23 Wrestling World Championships but on Thursday, two Indian wrestlers finally stood on the podium in Belgrade. While Shivani Pawar won silver in the women's 50kg division, it was Anju who won India's second medal, winning a bronze in the women's 55kg division.
The 21-year-old bounced back superbly from the disappointment of losing her semifinal match by just a solitary point 5-4 in her final match of the competition against Virginie Kaze Gascon of Canada. It wasn't as if she didn't have to struggle though. The former silver medalist at the U-23 Asian Championships opened the scoring but conceded six straight points to trail 6-2 early in the first period.
However, she continued forcing the work rate and the pressure took its toll on the Canadian. Anju scored off a pushout and then got a takedown and turned her opponent to score another four. Another takedown followed as the Indian went into the lead. Anju continued to push the pace in the second period as the Canadian slipped further behind. The Indian scored another 10 points all through takedowns -- for 15 unanswered points - to cause the contest to be stopped for reasons of technical superiority with the score reading 17-6 in her favour.
While Anju impressed with the come-from-behind victory there was disappointment for Pawar in her final against USA's Erica Shilson. Although the Indian got an early takedown to open the score, the American-who has now won gold at every age group competition - turned her over her shoulder for a four point throw and pinned her shoulders in the same move to end the competition.
While there was disappointment in how the final concluded, there Pawar performed creditably over the last couple of days. Largely unheralded before this competition without even a medal at the senior level in India, She had been down 0-9 in her opening bout before pinning her opponent and then pinned the reigning European U-23 champion in Russia's Maria Tiumerekova in the semifinal. Her silver medal is one of just seven won by Indian wrestlers at the U-23 worlds and puts her in elite company alongside Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya.