World Wrestling Championships: Deepak Punia bags Olympic quota, Aware in semis

Deepak Punia bagged another Olympic spot for India as he made the semifinals of the men's freestyle 86kg category at the Wrestling World Championships.

India's junior World Champion Deepak Punia advanced to the semifinals, thereby booking an Olympic spot.   -  PTI

Junior worlds gold medallist Deepak Punia bagged an Olympic berth by reaching the semifinals of the World Wrestling Championships in the men's freestyle 86kg category. The 20-year old beat Carlos Izquierdo of Colombia 7-6 in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Nur-Sultan, Kazhakstan on Saturday.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Rahul Aware, contesting in a non-Olympic 61kg category, entered the semifinals with a 10-7 win over Kazakhstan's Rassul Kaliyev.

In a closely-contested quarterfinal match, Aware trailed 0-2 in the first minute, but equalised 2-2 and then took a 3-2 lead. Aware was able to take slender 6-5 lead in the second period and extended it to 10-6 in the closing stages when he wrestled Kaliyev off the mat in the final minute.

The Kazakh wrestler won one more point through a challenge in the dying seconds, but Aware sealed a 10-7 victory to sail into the semis. Earlier, in the day the 27-year old outclassed Turkmenistan's Kerim Hojakov 13-2 in the pre-quarterfinal.

- Punia's comeback -

In the second round, Punia staged a remarkable comeback to recover from a 0-5 deficit to win 8-6 against Kazhakstan's Adilet Davlumbayev.

Punia was wrestled out of the mat by Davlumbayev in the first minute as he trailed 0-4. However, the Indian showed great resilience to cut down his opponent's lead to 5-3 in the first period and levelled the scores in the second period.

Both the players were tied on 7-7 when the Kazakh wrestler requested for a challenge. The referees awarded one more point to Punia's existing seven points and docked the local a point. Deepak saw out the remaining 8 seconds and sealed a 8-6 win.

In the men's 79kg category, Jitender lost the quarterfinal 0-4 to Slovakia's Tajmuraz Salkazanov while Mausam Khatri lost 0-10 to USA's Olympic gold medallist Kyle Snyder in a lopsided pre-quarterfinal in the 97kg category.

However, both Jitender and Khatri have a chance of making it to the repechage, given their opponents reach the finals.