Sushil Kumar’s 74kg gold medal might have made him the first Indian wrestler to win three consecutive Commonwealth Games crowns, but it was the younger Bajrang Punia who looked to be the man for the future.
For about a little over a year now, Bajrang, the protege and training partner of Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, has been competing in almost all important events and grabbing podium finishes consistently.
The 24-year-old has followed up a string of fabulous performances, including gold medals in the Asian championships, Commonwealth championships and Asian Indoor Games and a silver in the World under-23 championships, last year by taking a bronze in the Asian championships in Bishkek and a 65kg gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games here.
His dedicated training schedule and skills on the mat make the former World championships medallist a strong contender for a medal in the upcoming Asian Games and a bright prospect for the 2020 Olympics.
The other noticeable performer was Vinesh Phogat, who became the first Indian woman wrestler to win back-to-back gold medals in the Games. Vinesh, who recovered from a serious leg injury in the Rio Olympics and another one during a training session, showed a lot of character to get ready in time. She bagged an Asian championships silver, her fourth successive medal in the continental event, before taking the top honour in 50kg here this year.
Vinesh, Sumit claim gold; Sakshi settles for bronze
“The support I have received from each one of you has been nothing short of phenomenal! Thank you for the unending motivation, love and encouragement. Just getting started here, miles to go, many more medals to be fought for,” a relieved Vinesh wrote on her twitter handle.
Vinesh, an Asian Games bronze medallist four years ago, will look forward to changing the colour of her medal before switching her aim to the Olympics.
A Commonwealth championships gold medallist and an Asian bronze medallist in 2011, Rahul Aware finally did justice to his talent. The 57kg Commonwealth title will do a world of good to the confidence of the 26-year-old National champion.
ALSO READ: CWG 2018: A memorable show with many takeaways for India
Sumit Malik, who won gold in the 125kg category, must get inspired to face bigger tests ahead, while the promising Pooja Dhanda, who made news by upsetting World championship medallists in the Pro Wrestling League, needs to make endeavour to achieve bigger glory after getting a 57kg silver medal.
The experienced Mausam Khatri (97kg) and Babita Kumari (53kg) secured silver medals to underline their longevity. Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik (62kg), up-and-coming Divya Kakran (68kg) and Kiran (76kg) and male wrestler Somveer (86kg) should be keen to improve upon their bronze-winning efforts in the CWG.
(The writer is in Gold Coast at the invite of Tourism Australia)
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