Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia won 8-0 in the bronze medal match of the men's freestyle 65 kg event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games on Saturday. He won against Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekov in the match to help the country equal its best-ever tally at Tokyo 2020 with six medals, the same number which the country had achieved at London 2012.
Punia took a 2-0 lead at the end of first period. The Indian wrestler almost had an ankle lock but Niyazbekov showed great defence to prevent it. Bajrang grabbed two points more with a clear takedown. He was utterly dominant throughout the fight.
Earlier Punia had defeated Iran's Morteza Ghiasi Cheka in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals. The Indian wrestler had defeated the Iranian by pinning him down to the mat (victory by fall). After trailing in the first two rounds, Punia made a comeback to keep India's hopes of a medal alive. Although he did face a 12-5 defeat to Haji Aliyev in the semis, he remained in the hunt for a bronze medal until Saturday.
Punia had earlier defeated Kyrgyzstan's Ernazar Akmataliev in the ⅛ final to begin his campaign at Tokyo 2020 on Friday. The bout between Bajrang and Akmataliev had ended with the score tied on 3-3 but the Indian prevailed owing to the higher point-scoring move which he secured through a 2-pointer in the first period of the ⅛ final.
Earlier, Ravi Dahiya had already clinched a silver medal for India in the 57kg weight category in wrestling. However, the big upset was Vinesh Phogat not managing a podium finish at Tokyo 2020.
Meanwhile, India was also staring at a possibility of losing an Olympic medal along with a penalty imposed on the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) after Deepak Punia's Russian coach Murad Gaidarov allegedly assaulted a referee at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The referee had officiated in the 86 kg bronze medal bout which Deepak lost to San Marino's Myles Nazim Amine on August 5.
However, the national federation was quick to react to the situation and escaped further trouble by immediately terminating the coach's contract. "The IOC mailed us intimating cancellation of the wrestling coach's accreditation. He has been expelled from the Village," Rajeev Mehta, the secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association, confirmed in a statement.