It was never going to be easy for Deepak Punia to get the elusive gold – he was up against the legend and presence of Hassan Yazdani in the final and, given the Iranian’s form, there was little hope of an upset.
And he duly delivered as Punia won India’s first and only wrestling silver here to salvage some pride for what has been a disappointing campaign for India in the sport.
Punia went down 0-10 to three-time world champion and the reigning champion here, Yazdani, in the men’s 86kg even as the rest of Indian wrestlers in action on the final day failed to make it to the medal rounds.
AS IT HAPPENED | ASIAN-GAMES-2023 OCTOBER 7 HIGHLIGHTS
Trailing 0-8 at the end of the first round to take the match into the second period, Punia could only last another 30 seconds before Yazdani stamped his superiority with another two-pointer to end the contest. Punia also got a caution for passivity.
The Indian started well, defeating Japan’s Shota Shirai 7-3 in the quarterfinals and then overcoming Uzbekistan’s Javrail Shapiev 4-3 in a closely-contested semifinal. But the final proved to be a tough nut to crack for Punia.
Among the other Indians, Yash lost in the 74kg quarterfinals, Sumit lost to Kazakhstan’s Aiaal Lazarev in the first round of the 125kg and Vicky lost to Kazakhstan’s Alisher Yergali in the 97kg.
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