Bajrang Punia on Thursday became the first Indian to feature among the top seeds of World Wrestling Championships, to be held in Budapest from October 20 to 28.
He is seeded third in his weight category of 65 kg class of the freestyle event. He was awarded the place after earning 45 points in the ranking list released by the United World Wrestling.
The world body has introduced the seeding system for the first time ever for the World Championships, utilizing the pre-championship performance ranking points to determine the competitive seeds. This follows the new ranking series that was announced during the 2017 World Championships in Paris. Previously, wrestlers were pulled into the brackets via a random draw of lots.
Turkey’s Selahattin Kilicsallayan is the top seed (50 points) in the 65 kg class weight category while Ilias Bekbulatov from Russia and the Indian grappler are positioned second and third respectively and Haji Aliyev from Azerbaijan is stationed fourth in the seeding list.
Bajrang has been training at Matrahaza, Hungary. He had reached Hungary before other team members arrived on October 10. Understandably, Punia felt elated getting picked for seeding. “I had come here early to get acclimatized to conditions and am fully focused. I hope I can live up to everybody’s expectations and return home with a gold medal,” the reigning Commonwealth and Asian Games champion said.
The 23-year-old had won a bronze at the 2013 World Championships and now aims to change the colour of the medal.