scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Monday, September 27, 2021

Bajrang gains revenge, bronze in dominating wrestling performance

The 27-year-old Indian had avenged that defeat at the Ali Aliev tournament in June right before the Olympics. But with high stakes and the disappointment of Friday’s semifinal defeat perhaps still on his mind, it wasn’t going to be straightforward.

By: Express News Service | Tokyo |
Updated: August 8, 2021 11:43:12 pm
Defeated Kazakh wrestler in freestyle 65 kg category. (Photo: AP)

Bajrang Punia defeated Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov Saturday to take bronze in the men’s freestyle 65 kg category.

Saturday’s bout was a grudge match with a medal on the line. It was at the hands of Niyazbekov that Punia’s run at the 2019 World Championship had come to an end in a controversial semifinal. Competing in front of his home crowd, the Kazakh had repeatedly pushed his fingers into Punia’s face and grabbed his singlet. Though he had been cautioned and fouled by the referee, the mat chairman had disagreed and refused to give any point to the Indian.

On that night in Nur-Sultan, trailing 7-2 and with the clock ticking down, Punia had put pressure and levelled the bout at 9-9, losing on a technicality.

The 27-year-old Indian had avenged that defeat at the Ali Aliev tournament in June right before the Olympics. But with high stakes and the disappointment of Friday’s semifinal defeat perhaps still on his mind, it wasn’t going to be straightforward.

Niyazbekov, 32, a three-time Asian Champion and two-time Worlds medallist, is a wily operator. He was coming into the play-off with a win by technical superiority in the repechage round. The bronze-medal bout was off to a cagey start.

Punia took the mat with his right knee unstrapped, removing a giant target for his opponent and dissuading any injury speculation.

During his three bouts on Friday, Punia had seemed apprehensive in putting his knee on the mat in search of takedowns. After he scored a point due to Niyazbekov’s passivity in the first period on Saturday, Punia went for a takedown. He was put in a headlock for his effort, but the Indian first got free with clever defence, and then sent his opponent out of bounds to make it 2-0.

Like in 2019, the Kazakh held on to Punia’s singlet, but the Indian changed direction, rotating and turning the Kazakh out of bounds. The bout was effectively won there.

In the second period, it was a Punia show. Three cleverly executed, quick two-pointers as Punia went for the right leg of his opponent, who kept looking for a counter which never came. The Indian was relentless and, at one point, leading 8-0 and mounted on his opponent’s back, he chose not to advance and go for a technical superiority win. The clock ran out with 8-0 on the scorecard. Punia was the superior wrestler, no technicalities needed this time.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Olympics News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement