U23 World Champion Reetika Ready for Bigger Challenges After National Games

Panaji: Reetika Hooda, India’s first women’s wrestler to win the U23 World Championship gold last week, had to fly directly to Goa for the 37th National Games. But instead of showing
any signs of fatigue, the Rohtak resident was pumped up to prove a point as she stormed through every opponent to clinch the gold medal in the 76kg category on Wednesday evening.
Reetika, who moved to a higher weight category because the 72kg category is not part of the Olympics, is already thinking of qualifying for the Paris Games and felt that the National Games
in Goa was a good opportunity for her to show that she can better the competition in India after the world Championship high. “I have been competing with these girls for a while now. I have
won at times and also lost. I came into this tournament with a mindset of winning gold. I was confident and that showed in my performance today,” said Reetika after winning the final against Divya Kakaran. Reetika had taken control of the bout, scoring a couple of take downs when Divya suffered an ankle injury and lost on technical superiority on the opening day of wrestling competitions at the Campal Sports Village. Speaking about her experience at the World U23 championships in Tirana, Albania, Reetika said, “the feeling of winning the gold was special. But I had seen my seniors carry the Indian flag after winning. A bit disappointed that I couldn’t do that as I was playing under the UWW banner.” Reetika, who shifted to wrestling after trying her luck
with handball, said playing the National Games soon after gave her the feeling of being at home with seniors and friends cheering her on. Her primary target now is to maintain the tempo and be in a position to carry the Tri-colour in Paris next year.

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