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This is the first CWG medal for Aware, 26, who in 2011 won gold at the Commonwealth Championships and an Asian Championships bronze, and Babita’s third consecutive medal at the CWG. Their success has taken India’s overall tally at the Gold Coast Games to 27.
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In a gripping final bout against Canada’s Steven Takahashi, Aware won 15-7 despite struggling with injury in the latter half. After showing visible discomfort while on his back, Aware roared back with a very strong second round and defeated Takahashi.
One of 45 athletes who are given financial aid under the Indian government’s Target Olympic Podium program, the Kolhapur-based wrestler had missed out on a berth for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Today’s gold will mean the world to him, given the circumstances that combined to see his Olympic dreams dashed two years ago.
Babita, the gold medalist from 2014 and silver medalist in 2010, beat Nigeria’s Samuel Bose, Sri Lanka’s Deepika Dilhani and Australian Carissa Holland to storm into the final, where she was beaten by Canada’s Diana Weicker.
Having gone to the 2016 Rio Olympics with high hopes, the 28-year-old had been beaten in the first round by Greek wrestler Maria Prevolaraki 5-1. This was her first international match since then, with knee injuries her bids for a comeback. Between the Rio Games and now, Babita’s only appearances had come during the Pro Wrestling League where she was beaten in 46 seconds and again ruled out of the season.