Header Ads

Bajrang Punia Registers India's First Asian Games 2018 Gold!

India’s biggest medal hope in men’s wrestling, Bajrang Punia, has delivered on his promise. Punia won the gold medal in the 65 kg freestyle wrestling event by beating Japan’s Daichi Takatani 11-8 in the final bout. This is India’s first gold medal of the 2018 Games. Punia first outclassed Uzbekistan’s Sirojiddin Khasanov 13-3, winning by technical superiority. He followed that up with another gallant show in the quarter-final as he subdued Tajikistan’s Abdulqosim Fayziev 12-2 to storm into the last four. He was in his elements again in the semi-final bout as he overpowered Mongolia’s Batmagnai Batchuluun 10-0 to win his third straight bout via technical superiority.

India's wrestler Bajrang Punia with Uzbekistan's Khasanov Sirojiddin in the men's freestyle wrestling (65kg) qualification round at the Asian Games 2018.
 The 24-year old from Haryana’s Jhajjar got the better of Takatani of Japan in a closely fought final bout. Punia sped away to a 6-0 lead before the Japanese wrestler fought back to tie the bout at 6-6. But Punia’s resilience eventually paid off as he put in a great defensive show towards the end of the bout to hold on to a great victory.

The three bouts so far have been an indicator of Punia’s tactical acumen on the mat. He is not the strongest wrestler in the category but the Indian talisman makes up for it with his tactical genius. He had won a silver medal in the 61 kg category in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. In the run up to this year’s event, Punia stamped his class in the 65 kg category by winning the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast earlier this year.

Pawan Kumar started his journey in the 86 kg category by winning his opening bout 8-0 against Vuthy Heng of Cambodia. He though lost his quarter-final bout rather tamely, 0-11, to Iran’s Hassan Yazdanicharati. With Yazdanicharati entering the final of the category, the Indian wrestler qualified for the repechage and beat Indonesia’s Fahriansyah in the Repechage Round 2 to enter the bronze medal match.