The hopes of the nation were pinned on two-time Olympic medallist, Sushil Kumar. But when he failed, it was Bajrang Punia who did India proud
Sportspersons dream to see their National Flag being hoisted and the National Anthem played. For Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia, that moment has finally arrived at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.
The hopes of the nation were pinned on two-time Olympic medallist, Sushil Kumar. But when he failed, it was Punia who did India proud.
Here is how Punia won the gold in 65 kg category on Sunday.Superior technical skills
This 24-year-old wrestler from Haryana breezed through his bouts with a far superior technique compared to his opponents.
In his first match, he took a 13-3 lead over Uzbekistan’s Khasanov Sirojiddin and then beat Tajakistan’s Abdulqosim Fayziev 12-2 in the quarter-finals.
Punia then marched into the final beating Mongolia's Batmagnai Batchuluun 10-0.
In the gold medal bout, he raced to a 6-0 advantage in the first 80 seconds and eventually won 11-8.
It appeared in the final that he was hungry for the yellow metal. Punia clinched the first gold for India at this edition’s Asian Games and overall, it is his fourth this year.A rich haul of medals and accolades
Punia already has an impressive record with rich haul of medals. He is a World Championship bronze medallist from the 2013 edition. He also won silver medals at the 2014 Asian and Commonwealth Games.
The Haryana lad won gold medals in the Commonwealth Championship in 2016 and 2017 at Singapore and South Africa, respectively.
At this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, Punia beat Wales’ Kane Charig in the final of the 65kg event. He followed this up with gold medals at Tbilisi Grand Prix (Georgia) and Yasar Dogu International (Istanbul). This impressive haul is complimented by the fact that most of his wins are a result of his technical superiority.Yogeshwar Dutt's protégé
This young lad is a protégé of four-time Olympian Yogeshwar Dutt, who has been training with him since his early days.
In an interview, Punia revealed that it was Dutt who asked him to up his ante by shifting from 61kg category to 65kg.
Since 65kg is an Olympic category and Punia wishes to clinch that yellow medal for the nation.'Worked on my game in the last 10 months'
No great win comes without hard work and sacrifices. Punia also trained hard on his technique to improve his game.
In an interview to The Indian Express, he revealed, "I was not enjoying wrestling. I used to go and wrestle and come back. Win or loss didn’t matter. I never checked my mistakes. In a way, I was betraying my sport. I learnt in the last 10 months that wrestling is more than just going out there and fighting with another guy on the mat".Direct entry in the Asian Games along with Sushil Kumar
Both Punia and Sushil were given direct entry to Asian Games without trials since the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) felt that the duo was too superior to other wrestlers in their respective categories.
Ahead of the Games, the two wrestlers had trained together in Georgia to head to Indonesia better prepared. With his eyes set on winning an Olympic medal, one can only wish that this young man from Haryana does India proud again, at 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
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Last Updated 10:09 AM IST