Shrugging off his controversial semi-final defeat, Bajrang Punia bagged his third World Championship medal while Ravi Dahiya made his debut memorable by grabbing a bronze on Friday.
Bajrang was already India's only multiple-medallist at the Worlds and he consolidated his record with his narrow 8-7 win over Mongloia's Tulga Tumur Ochir, the under-23 Asian champion.
Bajrang held off a spirited challenge from Ochir who had raced to a 6-0 lead but true to his style, the Indian ruled the second period with a flurry of moves.
Bajrang wins bronze! ♂️
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He had won a silver medal last year and a bronze in the 2013 edition in Budapest. It was Bajrang's first tournament of the season where he did not make the final though he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in this championships.
"I will never forget what they did to me. I was so heartbroken that I did not even want to fight for bronze today," Bajrang told PTI, referring to his controversial semi-final defeat against home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov.
"The whole world saw what they did. I had worked so hard for the World Championship gold. I appealed to the UWW to do something about it. My coaches told me medal is a medal so I agreed to compete in this bout. I am glad I gave India third World medal," he added.
Ravi was up against Reza Ahmadali Atrinagharchi, the reigning Asian champion from Iran, and capped his stunning debut with a 6-3 win in the bronze medal bout.
"I have achieved what I wanted. I have an Olympic quota and a medal too. I have gained a lot of experience. I will get better," said Ravi, son of a farmer from Nahri Village in Sonepat district in Haryana.
This was India's third medal of the championships — all bronze. Vinesh Phogat had also won a bronze in women's 53 kg event.
The last time India won three medals at the Worlds was in 2013 when Amit Dahiya, Bajrang and Sandeep Tulsi Yadav stood on the podium.
India also clinched two Olympic quotas through Bajrang (65kg) and Ravi (57kg).
However, double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, who returned to the Worlds after eight years, exited after a 9-11 first round defeat in 74kg against Khadzhimurad Gadzhiyev of Azerbaijan. Sushil was leading 9-4 but seven points in a row to his opponent to lose the bout.
The Azerbaijani wrestler later lost his quarter-final bout to USA's Jordan Ernest Burroughs, resulting to Sushil's ouster from the championship.
For Ravi, it was a memorable World Championships. He had shocked Arsen Harutunyan, the 61kg European champion from Armenia and 2017 world champion and world number three Yuki Takahashi of Japan before losing to Zaur Uguev of Russia.
In the bronze play-off, Ravi stayed ahead of his Iranian opponent, who made the first move but it was the Indian who scored two points on counter. With a takedown following a double leg attack, Ravi led 4-3 at the break as he conceded one point for stepping out an two on his rival's move.
Another takedown made it 6-3 for Ravi and he held on to the lead to ensure his place on the podium.
Ochir put Bajrang under a lot of pressure from the beginning as he pushed the Indian outside the mat to take lead. He locked Bajrang's arms to prevent attacks and then effected a four-point throw to lead 6-0.
Bajrang got on board with a counter and true to his style made a superb comeback in the second period. He first erased the deficit and then took lead with a flurry of moves to eventually nail the medal.
Asked if he found his defence lacking since he has been trailing in his bouts, Bajrang replied: "No, that's my style. I do well after trailing. I have been doing that for years."
In the run-up to the World Championships, he won titles at all four competitions — Dan Kolov in Bulgaria, Asian Championship in China, Ali Aliev in Russia and Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia.
Last year also, it was only at the Asian Championship in Bishkek where he did not reach the final, finishing with a bronze.
In the other category which offered Olympic qualification on Friday, Sumit Malik lost his 125kg first round bout 0-2 to Hungary's Daniel ligeti, who later lost in the quarter-finals.
In the non-Olympic categories, Karan lost his 70kg Qualification bout 0-7 to Ikhtiyor Navruzov and was ousted when the Uzbek lost in the quarter-final.
In 92kg, Parveen won his first bout by technical superiority against Korea's Changjae Su but lost 0-8 to Ukraine's Liubomyr Sagaliuk.
Sagaliuk's defeat in the quarter-finals shut the repechage door on the Indian.
Updated Date: Sep 20, 2019 21:33:22 IST