Bajrang Punia Bags Silver at World Wrestling Championships
Bajrang now has two medals at the World Championship, having won a bronze at the 2013 edition.
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Bajrang Punia's bid to become only the second Indian to win a gold medal at the World Championship fell flat as a tactically superior Takuto Otoguro of Japan stunned the Indian in the 65kg final in Budapest on Monday.
Only the fourth Indian ever to make it to the World Championship gold medal match, 24-year-old Bajrang was rattled by the 19-year old Otoguro, who consistently attacked the left leg of Indian and emerged a comfortable 16-9 winner.
In the process, Otoguru became Japan’s youngest World Champion at the age of 19.
It was so near and yet so far. Having reached the final, I expected to win gold but I will have to be satisfied with a silver medal. I am happy to have bettered my bronze medal effort, achieved five years ago at the same venue.Bajrang Punia
A four-point throw gave Otoguro an early 5-0 lead, leaving Bajrang to play a catch-up game. With back-to-back take downs, the Indian reduced the deficit to 4-5.
The Japanese got more points with a step out and led 7-6 at the break.
An early take down at the start of second period handed Otoguro a 9-6 lead. The Japanese kept attacking Bajrang's left leg, a strategy which the Indian struggled to counter.
The Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang eventually had to settle for a silver, which is his second medal at the Worlds. He had won a bronze in 2013 edition.
Sushil Kumar, country’s greatest ever wrestler, is the lone Indian to win a gold medal at the Worlds, achieving the feat in 2010 in Moscow in the 66kg category.
Apart from Sushil, Amit Dahiya (2013) and Bishambar Singh (1967) are the other Indians to make it to the World Championships final in men's free style.
Udey Chand (bronze, 1961), Ramesh Kumar (bronze, 2009), Narsingh Yadav (2015) are the other men's free style wrestlers to win a medal at the World Championships.
Among female grapplers, only Babita Phogat (bronze, 2012), Geeta Phogat (2012), Alka Tomar (bronze, 2006) are the medal winners at World Championships.
Coach Jagmander Singh was disappointed but hailed Bajrang for a fantastic season.
"We all wanted him to win gold, but a silver medal is no mean achievement. Bajrang has been consistent throughout the season and has wrapped up this season with two major titles and a silver medal in the world championships. And this is what every wrestler dreams about," said the coach.
(With inputs from PTI)
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