Star Indian wrestler and World No. 1 Bajrang Punia stormed into the semi-final of the men’s 65kg freestyle event at the ongoing World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakstan. By doing so, Bajrang also sealed India’s Tokyo Olympic quota in the event.
Minutes ahead of Bajrang Punia’s quarter-final bout, India’s Ravi Kumar Dahiya sealed the country’s second Tokyo Olympic quota in wrestling by storming into the semi-final of men’s 57kg freestyle event. Ravi also became the first Indian male wrestler to seal a Tokyo Olympic berth on Thursday.
There was never any doubt about Bajrang Punia’s progress in the World Championships, considering his form in the ongoing season. Bajrang triumphed at all four events he competed this season and entered the Championships as the world number one and the top seed in 65kg category.
Bajrang, it is safe to say, has lived up to the reputation. In the quarter-final bout on Thursday, Bajrang Punia made light work of a challenge from North Korea’s Jong Son. Displaying solid defence and counter-attacking skills, Bajrang won the bout 8-1 to seal his place in the semi-finals.
Bajrang will face Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan in the semi-final of the men’s 65kg freestyle event.
Meanwhile, Ravi Kumar Dahiya was as impressive as he stunned former world champion Yuki Takahashi 6-1 in the quarter-finals of 57kg freestyle event. Ravi will face Russia’s Zavur Uguev in the semi-finals.
Earlier on Wednesday, Vinesh Phogat sealed India an Olympic quota in the women’s 53 kg freestyle event before winning her maiden World Championships medal. The Asian Games and Commonwealth Games champion ended her drought for a world meet medal with a bronze.
End of the road for Sakshi Malik and Divya Kakran in Nur-Sultan
Meanwhile, it was the end of the road for Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik and Divya Kakran. Sakshi lost her opening bout of women’s 62 kg freestyle event to Nigeria’s Aminat Adeniyi and lost out on an opportunity for the repchage as Adeniyi failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
Divya Kakran lost the Round of 16 of women’s 68 kg freestyle event to Sara Dosho, reigning Olympic & former World Champion. Dosho lost in the quarter-finals, thereby ending Kakran’s repechage hopes as well.