Bajrang reclaims gold at Asian Wrestling C’ship with tough win

Bajrang Punia logged 10 points in a row to reclaim his Asian Championship crown.

Bajrang Punia defeated Kazakhstan’s Sayatbek Okassov 12-7 in the final to claim gold.   -  Special Arrangement

World number one Bajrang Punia logged 10 points in a row in the gold medal bout to reclaim his Asian Championship crown, while Parveen Rana settled for silver as India ended the first day with three medals, here on Tuesday.

Punia defeated Kazakhstan’s Sayatbek Okassov 12-7 in a nail-biting 65kg men’s free style.

The CWG and Asian Games champion was trailing 2-7 with just 60 seconds to go for the final bell but the unperturbed Indian produced three gut wrench moves and an exposure move to take eight points after he began the attack with a two-point take down.

The Kazkah was visibly tired while Bajrang displayed immense stamina and intelligence under pressure to emerge triumphant. It is Bajrang’s second gold at the championship, having won one in 2017. Overall, it was the fifth medal for the Indian in this tournament.

With this performance, Bajrang yet again sounded a warning to his opponents ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Read: Bajrang regains top spot in world wrestling rankings

“I have been training to adopt new techniques; I am happy that I could implement those and I am very happy that I could win the match and a gold medal here. There is lots to work on and my focus is to prepare for the World Championship, which also is an Olympic qualifier,” said Bajrang.

On his way to the final, Bajrang had conceded just one point.

He defeated Uzbekistan’s Sirojiddin Khasanov 12-1 in the semifinal before winning by technical superiority against Charles Fern of Sri Lanka. He beat Peyman Biabani of Iran 6-0.

Parveen Rana won his first big medal in seven years though he missed out on the top prize. Praveen, who won a bronze in this championship in 2012, lost the 79kg gold medal bout 0-3 to 2017 world championships bronze medallist Bahman Mohammad Teymouri of Iran.

Rana had won a close 3-2 semifinal against Kazakhstan’s Galymzhan Usserbayev.

“I am happy that I could change the colour of my medal. There are quite a few important tournaments coming up and this win will further motivate me as I aim to win a berth for the World Championships later this year and qualify for Olympics," said Parveen.

Satywart Kadian lost to Batzul Ulziisaikhan in the 97kg quarterfinal bout but went on to make the cut after his Mongolian rival reached the final. He won the bronze play-off 8-1 against Haobin Gao of China.

Meanwhile, in the 57kg weight division, Ravi Kumar entered the bronze medal play-off round after winning his repechage against Chia Tso Liu of Taipei 4-0 but lost the medal bout 3-5 to Yuki Takahashi of Japan.

Rajneesh bowed out of the tournament early in 70kg category.