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India’s Bajrang Punia got the better of Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov 8-0, a victory by points, to take the men’s 65kg bronze at the Makuhari Messe Hall on Saturday.

Gadzhimurad Rashidov, representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), won the other bronze with a 5-0 decision over Hungary’s Iszmail Muszukajev. Two bronze medals are awarded in Olympic wrestling. 

On Friday, Bajrang lost the semi-final 5-12 against Azerbaijan’s Haji Aliyev, who is the Rio 2016 bronze-medallist in 57kg and a three-time world champion in 61kg. 

Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov beat Senegal’s Adama Diatta 10-0 on technical superiority in the repechage round to set up a bronze medal match with Bajrang.  

The repechage rule allows wrestlers who have lost early in the competition a second chance, should their victor make it to the final. 

On Saturday, Bajrang Punia meant business and was first to collect a point after Daulet failed to score during a passive warning.

Bajrang then sent his Kazakh opponent out of bonds to end the first period 2-0 up. 

The 27-year-old Indian kept picking up points in the second period by going for Daulet’s right leg, a move that earned him two points. 

By this point, Daulet was clearly on the backfoot as Bajrang countered with another two points to lead 6-0. 

Bajrang sealed the match with an ankle hold and quickly moving behind his opponent, picking another two points. 

Earlier, Bajrang Punia beat Iran’s Morteza Ghiasi by fall in the quarter-finals and survived a close shave against Ernazar Akmataliev of Kyrgyzstan in the round of 16 to enter the semis.

Bajrang is now the second Indian wrestler to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics after Ravi Dahiya claimed the silver in men’s 57kg.

Featured photo: Asian Wrestling Championship



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