Indian wrestler Deepak Punia beat Ekerekeme Agiomor of Nigeria 12-1 on technical superiority to reach the quarters in men's 86kg at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday. He will face Zushen Lin of China next.
Both wrestlers went neck and neck before Deepak took a 2-0 lead in the first half. Agiomor grabbed a point soon after but Deepak opened up a three point lead (4-1) heading into the final period. Deepak upped the ante in the final period, racing to 11 point lead to seal the match.
Earlier in the morning, Deepak's compatriot Ravi Kumar beat Oscar Urbano of Colombia 13-2 by technical superiority in the men's 57kg Round-of-16 to reach the last eight.
Ravi Kumar beats Oscar Urbano to reach wrestling quarterfinals in 57kg
Deepak has carried forward his success from junior to elite level. Deepak, who is from Chhara village of Jhajjar district in Haryana, is another bright product of the Chhatrasal Stadium, Delhi.
The well-built wrestler showed his potential early as he won the World cadet and the World junior titles in 2016 and 2019, respectively. His World junior gold was the first by an Indian after a gap of 18 years.
Deepak graduated to the elite level at a rapid pace and grabbed an Olympic quota place along with the silver medal in 86kg at the World championships in Nur-Sultan. He, thus, narrowly missed a rare treble of winning the World cadet, junior and elite crowns as he withdrew from the title clash in Nur-Sultan owing to a leg injury.
The youngster had a tough time in 2020 as he lost his mother and spent three frustrating months at home during the early phase of the lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, Deepak overcame the odds to return to competitive wrestling. The 22-year-old claimed a silver medal in the Asian championships in 2021 to announce his intention in the lead-up to the Olympics.