Ace wrestler Bajrang Punia on Sunday scripted history by becoming the first Indian to win four medals at the World Wrestling Championships. The 28-year-old claimed bronze on the last day of the current edition of the World Wrestling Championship.
In a cliffhanger, Punia squeaked home an 11-9 win on points over Sebastian C. Rivera of Puerto Rico in the bronze-medal encounter in the 65 kg category. At one stage, he was trailing by 0-6 in the match but orchestrated a resounding comeback to get the better of his opponent.
What makes this triumph even more remarkable is the fact that Punia fought the bout with a bandage on his head because of the injury he had copped in the pre-quarterfinal. His gallant effort to notch up laurels will be remembered in the years to come.
4️⃣th Worlds medal for @BajrangPunia 🤼♂️
Our Tokyo Olympics BRONZE medalist has bagged a BRONZE🥉 again. This time at the Wrestling World Championships (FS 65kg) in Belgrade🤩
His World Championships CV now:
— SAI Media (@Media_SAI) September 18, 2022
This win is also a sweet consolation for India as the 30-member contingent in the current championship punched below their weight and managed to win only two medals in different categories. Besides Punia, Vinesh Phogat racked up her second World Championship bronze medal in the women’s 53kg category.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya, who had secured a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics, failed to cut the mustard and crashed out of the tournament early.
Punia had also lost to John Michael Diakomihalis of the US in the quarter-finals but qualified for the bronze medal bout through the repechage round where he edged Vazgen Tevanyan of Armenia 7-6 by points.
Before the current edition, the champion grappler had won a bronze in 2013, a silver in 2018 and a bronze in 2019 at the World Wrestling Championships.
“I gave away six points at the start. And the leg defence that I thought would work, just didn’t come off. I need to sit and analyse why it’s not working. It didn’t work in matches I lost, and it didn’t work today when I won as well. It’s a huge weakness and I’ll have to work a lot,” Punia said after his win.
In his spirited effort to fight the bout with a bandage on his head, the wrestler stated, “I always fight till the last second because we work hard as wrestlers.”