Tokyo Olympics :Bajrang Punia wins bronze medal

Tokyo Olympics : Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia wins the bronze medal against Kazhakstan’s Daulet in the men’s freestyle wrestling in the Tokyo Olympic games 2020 event.

Bajrang Punia defeated Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov to win the bronze medal in the men’s freestyle 65kg category, bringing the 7th wrestling medal for India at the Olympics.

Saturday’s bout was a grudge match with the bronze medal on the line. It was in the hands of Niyazbekov that Bajrang’s stellar run at the 2019 World Championship came to an end which was a controversial semifinal that happened. In front of his home crowd, the Kazakh player repeatedly pushed his fingers into Punia’s face and grabbed his singlet. Though he was warned and fouled by the referee, the mat chairman rejected and refused to give points to the Indian.

On that night in Nur-Sultan, Punia trailing 7-2 and with the clock ticking down, he put pressure and levelled the bout at 9-9, losing on a technicality.

The 27-year-old Indian had taken revenge for that defeat at the Ali Aliev tournament in June exactly before the Olympics 2020. But with mount level of high stakes and the disappointment of Friday’s semifinal defeat perhaps still running on his mind, as it wasn’t going to be straightforward.

The 32-year-old three-time Asian Champion and two-time Worlds medallist is a difficult operator. He was marching into the play-off with a win by technical superiority in the repechage round. The bronze-medal bout was off to a cagey start. Punia took the mat with his right knee unstrapped, removing a giant target for his opponent and dismissing any injury speculation.

During his three bouts on Friday, Bajrang Punia seemed apprehensive in putting his knee on the mat in search of takedowns. After he scored a point due to Niyazbekov’s passivity in the first period on Saturday, BP went for a takedown. He was put in a headlock for his effort, but the Indian first got free with clever defense and then sent his opponent out of bounds to make it 2-0.

In the second round, it was a Bajrang’s show. 3 cleverly executed, quick two-pointers as Punia went for the right leg of his opponent, who kept looking for a counter which never happened. The Indian was relentless and at one point, leading 8-0 and mounted on his opponent’s back, he chose not to advance and go for a technical superiority win. The clock ran out with 8-0 on the scorecard. Bajrang was the skillful superior wrestler, no technicalities were needed this time for him.

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