World number one Bajrang Punia logged 10 points in a row in the gold medal bout to reclaim his Asian Championship crown, defeating Kazakhstan’s Sayatbek Okassov 12-7 in a nail-biting 65kg men’s freestyle final on Tuesday. The Asian Games champion was trailing 2-7 with just 60 seconds to go for the final bell but the unperturbed Indian produced three gut wrench moves and an exposure move to take eight points after he began the attack with a two-point takedown.
The Kazkah was visibly tired while Bajrang showed immense stamina and brain under pressure to emerge triumphant. It is Bajrang’s second gold at this championship, having won one in 2017. Overall, it was the fifth medal for the Indian in this tournament.
With this performance, Bajrang yet again sounded a warning to his opponents that he will be a strong medal contender at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
On his way to the final, Bajrang had conceded just one point. He defeated Uzbekistan’s Sirojiddin Khasanov 12-1 in the semi-final before winning by technical superiority against Charles Fern of Sri Lanka. He beat Peyman Biabani of Iran 6-0.
Another Indian in the gold medal contention is Parveen Rana, who entered the final in 79kg category after a 3-2 win over Kazakhstan’s Galymzhan Usserbayev.
He will face Bahman Mohammad Teymouri of Iran in his gold-medal bout. Rana had defeated Yuta Abe of Japan and Mongolia’s Tugs Erdene Denzensharav.
In the 57kg weight division, Ravi Kumar entered the bronze medal play-off round after winning his repechage against Chia Tso Liu of Taipei 4-0. Ravi will be up against Yuki Takahashi of Japan.
Satywart Kadian, too, reached the bronze medal round in 97kg. Kadian lost to Batzul Ulziisaikhan in his quarterfinal bout but went on to make the cut after his Mongolian rival reached the final.
Meanwhile, Rajneesh bowed out of the tournament early in 70kg category.