Bajrang Punia defeated Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan to secure a bronze medal in wrestling at the Tokyo 2020 Games. The Indian wrestler won 8-0 in the bronze medal playoff for the men’s 65kg freestyle category.
The bout began with Punia taking a positive approach, and it quite clearly paid off. The opponent, however, was waiting for Bajrang to make a mistake, and it backfired – losing him a point for positivity. Bajrang then made a move to secure a single point and took a slender 2-0 lead into the interval.
In the second period, Bajrang looked to be a little more attacking and took the fight to his opponent. Soon he opened a healthy 4-0 and that made things relatively easy for the Indian. Two more takedowns brought Bajrang a commanding 8-0 advantage and at this point, there was hardly a way back into the contest for the Kazakh fighter.
Punia joins a select band on Indian wrestlers to have won a medal at the Olympics, which includes the likes of KD Jhadhav, Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Sakshi Malik, and Ravi Dahiya.
A three-time world champion, Bajrang had earlier lost in the semifinals of the competition, and credit must be given for his performance today. He overcame the disappointment of losing the chance to fight for the gold, and yet came out with a purpose and managed to win the bronze for the nation.