75 years of independence, 75 iconic moments from Indian sports: No. 68- Bajrang Punia wins bronze on debut at Tokyo Olympics 

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. 

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. 

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes.  Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022

August 7, 2021: Bajrang Punia secures bronze on debut at the Tokyo Olympics 

Bajrang Punia beat Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov 8-0 to win bronze in the wrestling 65kg freestyle category. 

Bajrang, a three-time Worlds medallist and overwhelming favourite for a medal, gave a controlled performance to notch up his first medal on debut and elevate his status in Indian wrestling.

After Sushil Kumar, Bajrang is the first Indian wrestler to have won medals in both Olympics and the World championships.

This was the country’s second wrestling medal and sixth overall in Tokyo. He was the sixth Indian wrestler ever to claim an Olympic medal.

Bajrang was watchful even while attacking his opponent in the first period and opened his account by gaining a passivity point. Bajrang doubled it by driving Niyazbekov out of the circle.

The Indian returned after the break with a lot of determination and executed his game plan of attacking the Kazakh’s right leg well. After a few attempts, Bajrang finally managed to earn a two-pointer through his first takedown with less than 90 seconds left.

With his coach Shako Bentinidis shouting ‘only right side’ from his corner, Bajrang stuck to his task and made it 6-0 through a counter. He carried through his momentum to fetch two more points and defended his 8-0 lead confidently.

After his loss in the Olympics semifinals, it was a huge sigh of relief for Bajrang as well as the Indian coaching staff. Shako and chief coach Jagmender Singh celebrated by hugging each other.

In the last-four contest, Bajrang lost to Rio Olympics bronze medallist and three-time World champion Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan 12-5 to make it to the repechage round.

(This article was first published on August 7, 2021)

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