Bajrang Punia and Vinod Kumar Omprakash clinched bronze medals in 65 kg and 70 kg freestyle category respectively at the Asian Wrestling Championships in Kyrgyzstan on Saturday. Their victories take India’s medals tally to eight with one gold, one silver and six bronze medals.
India’s biggest hope in the tournament, Punia, couldn’t replicate his feat from last year when he had won a gold medal in the 65kg category in New Delhi. However, he won the bronze for the nation with some domineering displays after Japan’s Daichi Takatani defeated him in the quarterfinal to clinch silver.
In the bronze playoffs, Punia had a tricky 10-4 win over Iran’s Yones Aliakbar Emamichoghaei as his compatriot Vinod Kumar overcame host nation’s Elaman Dogdurbek Uulu in a stunning 70 kg freestyle duel that saw the Indian winning at the end by virtue of scoring the last points in a 3-3 bout.
Contrary to what the 10-4 score-line indicates, Punia had a tough task at his hands as he found himself trailing a huge part of the six-minute encounter. However, Punia wasn’t one to give up and came back to make the score 2-2 into the break. Seeing this, the Iranian opponent changed his gear soon and his offensive tactics regained him a quick two-point lead.
The aggressive approach had caused Takatani to lose steam and Punia made full use of it as he was seen producing a flurry of counterattacks to level things, with less than two minutes left. His risk paid off as he won three consecutive two-point moves to run away with a win.
Kumar also left things right till the last moment. He was trailing 1-0 at the break and the slow-paced game saw the crowd favourite leading 1-3 with seconds left. However, Kumar had other plans and with just seven minutes left on the clock, he produced a gem of a move to throw down Elaman to score the last winning points and the match ended at 3-3.