As the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics approaches, India’s hopes for medal tally gets another boost. This time, the superstar Indian wrestlers Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Bajrang Punia who have secured medals at the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi. Ravi Kumar has clinched gold, but Bajrang Punia had to be satisfied with a silver after getting defeated in the final.
Facing Hikmatullo Vohidov from Tajikistan in the Men’s freestyle 57 kg event, Ravi Kumar dominated over his opponent with a clean 10-0 finish. This is his second gold medal of this year, after winning gold at the Rome Ranking Series in January, defeating Nurbolat Abdualiyev from Kazakhstan in the final.
Earlier in the AWC, Kumar impressed with victories over former world champions Yuki Takahash and Nurislam Sanayev on his path to the final.
Kumar has won silver at the 2018 World U23 Wrestling Championship in Bucharest, Romania, and also a bronze at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last September.
Competing in the 65 kg category, Bajrang Punia faced his opponent from the 2018 World Wrestling Championships final, where he lost the gold against Takuto Otoguro. However, the 25 year old Haryanvi failed to defeat his Japanese opponent again, as Otoguro pressed him down with a 10-2 finish.
A defeat against the same opponent twice, is raising some eyebrows before the Olympic this year. However, Punia’s coach Shako Bentinidits gave some insight. “Otoguro is very fast and has quality attack. Punia is a little bit slow and a physical wrestler. We have time and heart to bounce back,” Bentinidits said after the match.
“Maybe people think every time Bajrang will win gold but it is not possible to stay at the same level for two years. Better to lose now than at the Olympics. He has to give everything there, this is not important.” he added.
The 25 year old has two AWC gold medals to his name, first one in New Delhi back in 2017, and the second gold in Xi’an last year. However, this is his second AWC silver after losing out against Masoud Esmaeilpour of Iran at the 2014 Asian Wrestling Championships final in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Last month, Punia secured a gold against USA’s Jordan Michael Oliver at the Rome Ranking Series final.