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Victim of discrimination in all my three World Championships, says Bajrang Punia after controversial semis loss

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Victim of discrimination in all my three World Championships, says Bajrang Punia after controversial semis loss

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SportsCafe Desk


India's top wrestler Bajrang Punia, on Tuesday, has said that he has been a victim in all the World Championships he has participated in, including the summit clash last year. Bajrang believes he needs to improve in all aspects of the game, regardless of it being leg-defense or counter-attack.

Bajrang Punia, who claimed bronze and silver in the last two editions, lost to local favourite Daulet Niyazbekov in the 65 kg semifinal this year, following some debatable decisions by the judges in Kazakhstan. The two were tied 9-9 after the bout but the Kazakh was declared the winner on criteria after Bajrang stormed back from a 2-7 deficit.

The Indian had to be content with a bronze after he was robbed from a chance to fight for the gold medal and has lamented the happenings. "It is very demoralising when you lose due to bias or someone wins by cheating because I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't lose out the gold because of my mistakes," Bajrang told PTI during a chat.

While he now has to put aside the pain and do well in future tournaments, particularly the Olympics, Bajrang believes even an Olympic medal will not be enough to get over the controversial loss. "World Championship and Olympics are different tournaments. I am preparing for Olympic and I had put a lot of effort for World Championship also, so I don't think I can forget it. Whenever something similar will happen, I will remember this incident," he said.

Bajrang, who has claimed gold medals at the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 Commonwealth Games, and 2017 Asian Championship, said this is not the first he has faced discrimination.

"I have been at the receiving end of such discrimination in all the three World Championships. Last year also it happened in the final," Bajrang said. Our president has objected to it this time and told them why it is happening to Indian wrestlers time and again and they assured it won't happen again," he stated.

Bajrang said he is happy to have added another medal to the country’s tally but it was not his best and he was rooting for gold. He is still working on improving his game to come back even stronger. "I need to work on all areas. Overall, whether it is leg defence, attack or counter attack, I need to keep improving in all aspects going ahead," he added.

Deepak Punia had claimed his maiden silver at the World Championships in the 86kg before he was forced to pull out of the final due to an ankle injury.

"I had suffered this injury in the first round itself but I kept competing and so it got aggravated. If I would have played in the finals, I might have needed a surgery so we decided to skip it. The physio said it will take another 15-20 days to recover completely," added Deepak, who took up wrestling after getting inspired by Sushil Kumar winning a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Last month, Deepak had become the first Indian to win the World Junior Championship in 18 years and the youngster said it gave him the confidence to do well in Kazakhstan but he always knew the competition will be tough as all the wrestlers come with full preparation.

"I have to work on my technique now. I lacked experience as it was my first world championships, so as I grow in confidence it will help,” he said.

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