Bajrang Punia will be fighting for the bronze medal against Russian Olympic Committe's Gadzhimurad Rashidov in his Olympic debut.
Wrestler Bajrang Punia lost semifinals in the men's freestyle 65kg event to Azerbaijan's Haji Aliev at Tokyo Olympics. He will be fighting for the bronze medal against Russian Olympic Committe's Gadzhimurad Rashidov in his Olympic debut.
Aliev is a three-time world champion and the bronze winner from the Rio Games.
In the quarterfinals, Punia put his tactical acumen and strength to good use in the second period to pin Iran's Morteza Cheka Ghiasi for a semifinal berth. Bajrang trailed the Iranian for a major part of the bout after being severely crippled by Ghiasi's defensive tactics, especially the body locks.
Before this bout, a timely take-down move helped him beat Kyrgyzstan's Ernazar Akmataliev in his opening bout. Just before the end of the first period put the Indian ahead 3-1 but Akmataliev ran Bajrang close in the second period, getting two push-out points to level the scores.
Since Bajrang had the high-scoring move, a two-pointer take-down, he was declared the winner on criteria. It was not the cleanest and fluent victories that he is known for but was just enough for Bajrang, who came into the Games after suffering a minor knee injury during a local Russian tournament.
With inputs from PTI
First Published: IST