Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia, who went to Tokyo as one of the brightest medal contenders for India, kicked off his campaign on Day 14 of the Summer Games. The 27-year-old went to the men's freestyle 65kg event as second seeded wrestler and certainly rose to the occasion when it mattered the most. After defeating Ernazar Akmataliev in a closely-fought pre-quarter contest, he came up with a spectacular win over Morteza Ghiasi in the quarter-finals.
In the semi-final against Haji Aliyev, Bajrang Punia started the contest on a positive note and got the first point. However, his fierce opponent bounced back and produced two back-to-back moves to go 4-1 up after 3 minutes. Aliyev continued to dominate the game after the break and came up with flurry of points to go 8-1 up in the contest.
With the match almost done and dusted, Bajrang came up with a brilliant move to cut the lead, with score reading 9-5 in Aliyev's favour. With the Indian wrestler looking for a big move in the dying seconds, he failed as Aliyev got the final few points to eventually win the match 12-5.
Bajrang's journey at Tokyo 2020
1/8 Final - Bajrang Punia defeated Ernazar Akmataliev (Kyrgyzstan) by 3-3 on the basis of higher point-scoring move
1/4 Final - Bajrang Punia defeated Morteza Ghiasi (Iran) by fall
Semi-final - Bajrang Punia lost to Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan) by 5-12
Bajrang will now play bronze medal match
Although it was a major disappointment for all the Indian fans to see Bajrang failing to qualify for the finals, there is still something to look forward to for the wrestler in Tokyo. Due to his impressive performances in the first few bouts on Friday, Bajrang has qualified for the bronze medal match.
The 27-year-old is just one win away from securing an Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020. He will be up against the winner of repechage match between Adama Diatta (Senegal) and Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan). The bronze medal bout is scheduled to begin at IST 3:55 PM onwards on August 7, Saturday.
The whole nation will be behind the star wrestler on Day 15 of the Summer Games as a win for Bajrang Punia could secure another medal for India in Tokyo.