Named after Hindu deity of kushti, Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has made country proud by winning bronze medal playoff of the 65kg wrestling category at Tokyo Olympics.
Despite suffering a knee injury just a month ago, the 27-year-old fought on a knee beating Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov in the bronze medal playoff at the Makuhari Messe wrestling arena.
Even though recovered, the knee affected his ability to make weight and his movements were badly restricted in his opening two bouts. He had willed himself to win then but the challenge proved to be too much in his semifinal against Azerbeijan’s Haji Aliyev.
“Due to knee injury he (Bajrang Punia) was not able to perform attacking wrestling (y’day), which he is known for. We talked over phone early morning& I told him to give his best today (match for Bronze medal),” said Punia’s father, Balwan Singh.
But Punia made a big comeback as he defeated Niyazbekov 8-0 in the bronze medal match. In the first period Punia went on to take a 2-0 lead and all the pressure was on the Kazakh opponent heading into the last three minutes.
In the final three minutes, Bajrang managed to hold his own and he kept his opponent at bay walking away with a bronze medal.