Overcoming the disappointment of his semi-final exit, India’s ace grappler Bajrang Punia clinched the bronze medal at the Wrestling World Championships in Nursultan, Kazhakstan on Friday.
Punia, the top seed in the 65kg category, defeated fourth seed Tulga Tumur Ochir with a superb second-period comeback. At the end of the first three minutes, the Indian was trailing 2-6 but he produced an attacking move in the second period that saw him win six points on the trot. He held on to win 8-7 and clinched his third Worlds medal, the first Indian to do so.
No Indian wrestler has won more than one medal at the Senior World Championships.
Punia had earlier lost his semifinal bout against home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov under controversial circumstances after he secured his place in the Tokyo Olympics along with debutant Ravi Dahiya at the World Wrestling Championships here on Thursday.
Punia’s frustrated coach Shako Banitidis had kicked the coach’s block in anger, protesting the partisan officiating during the 65kg bout, which ended 9-9 after a nerve-wracking six minutes. Since Niyazbekov was given a bigger throw of four points in the bout, he was declared the winner.
Punia had, on Thursday, confirmed his spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by virtue of reaching the semi-finals.