Asian Championship: Bajrang Punia reclaims gold

Xi’an (China): 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 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 that he will be a strong medal contender at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I have been training to adopt new techniques; 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 semi-final 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.