After Vinesh Phogat sealed her spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with her first medal at the World Wrestling Championships on Wednesday, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya on Thursday reached the bronze medal bouts in their respective categories to confirm their places at next year’s marquee event.
The duo eventually lost in the semi-finals at the ongoing World Championships and will wrestle for bronze on Friday.
Top seed Punia was left fuming at the end of the bout against Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov as he lost based on criteria (one four-point move) 9-9 in the 65kg semifinals. Punia stormed back from 2-9 down but he was livid with the officiating at the end of match.
In the 57kg semi-finals, Dahiya went down fighting against Zavur Uguev of Russia. The India fought back from 0-6 down but the bout ended 6-3 in favour of the world champion.
Earlier, Punia defeated North Korea’s Jong Son 8-2 in the quarter-final of the 65kg category. Not using much of his energy, Punia managed to see off his opponent’s challenge and qualify for Tokyo.
In 57 kg quarter-finals, Dahiya was at his best to beat Yuki Takahashi of Japan 6-1 in a show of strength. Takahashi was former silver medallist at the World Championship. He had defeated Dahiya at Asian Championships earlier this year. Dahiya also defeated 61 kg European champion Arsen of Armenia 18-6 in the pre-quarterfinals after being down 0-6.
Punia kicked off his campaign with a 9-2 win over Poland’s Krzysztof Bienkowski in the pre-quarters. The world No 1 began with a 5-0 lead in the first round before Bienkowski challenged a call from the referee only it to be rejected. Punia maintained his lead as he finished the bout with a scoreline of 9-2.
Meanwhile, Sakshi Malik (62kg) and Divya Kakran (68kg) bowed out of the tournament after losing their round of 16 matches. Their opponents met with defeats later, meaning no repechage opportunities for the Indians. Pooja Dhanda lost her bronze medal match and missed the chance to become the first Indian woman to win two World Championship medals. Dhanda lost to China’s Xingru Pei 3-5 in the 59kg bronze medal playoff.
Malik suffered a defeat against Aminat Adeniyi of Nigeria. The Indian grappler trailed by 0-5 and fought back to make it 7-10. However, it proved to be too late as Adeniyi managed to maintain a healthy lead. The Nigerian, however, was beaten by Yuliia Tkach of Ukraine, bringing an end to Malik’s campaign.
On the other hand, Kakran went down against reigning Olympic and former world champion Sara Dosho of Japan. USA’s Tamyra Mensah later thrashed Dosho 10-1 in the semis to blow away Kakran’s hopes of a repechage round.