Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Punia’s bid to become only the second Indian to win a gold medal at the World Championship suffered a setback after being beaten by 19-year-old Takuto Otoguro in the 65kg final, on Monday.
Otoguro completely outwrestled the Indian to comfortably win the match 16-9 to become the youngest champion of his country. Japan’s legendary Yuji Takada, who won gold at 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, had become youngest World Champion from Japan at the age of 20 in 1974.
It was the Japanese who attacked right from the start of the match not allowing the Indian to dominate. A four-point throw gave Otoguro took an early 5-0 lead, leaving Bajrang to play the catching game. The Indian hit back with back-to-back takedowns, to reduce the deficit to 4-5. The Japanese however hanged onto 7-6 lead at the break. The Japanese continued to hold onto the lead and in the end, emerged victorious.
Punia became only the fourth Indian ever to make it to the World Championship gold medal match. Speaking to PTI he said “It was so near and yet so far. Having reached the final, I expected to win gold but I will have to be satisfied with a silver medal. I am happy to have bettered my bronze medal effort, achieved five years ago at the same venue,” said Bajrang, who is now only Indian with two medals from the World Championship.
Meanwhile, Sushil Kumar, is still the lone Indian to win a gold medal at the Worlds, achieving the feat in 2010 in Moscow in the 66kg category.
Apart from Sushil, Amit Dahiya (2013) and Bishambar Singh (1967) are the other Indians to make it to the world championship final in men’s freestyle. Udey Chand (bronze, 1961), Ramesh Kumar (bronze, 2009), Nar Singh Yadav (2015) are the other men’s freestyle wrestlers to win a medal at the World.
From among female grapplers, only Babita Phogat (bronze, 2012), Geeta Phogat (2012), Alka Tomar (bronze, 2006) are the medal winners at Worlds.
(Video Courtesy: United World Wrestling)