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Asian Games 2018

Like mentor, like protege: Following in the footsteps of mentor Yogeshwar Dutt, Bajrang Punia wins Asiad Gold

Like mentor, like protege: Following in the footsteps of mentor Yogeshwar Dutt, Bajrang Punia wins Asiad Gold
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By

Akshat Mehrish

Published: 19 Aug 2018 2:34 PM GMT
Bajrang Punia has won India's second medal of the 2018 Asian Games. The young grappler took on Japan's Daichi Takatani and hammered his opponent on his way to the gold medal. Punia had been in stunning form throughout the day and justified his way by winning the medal. His day began with a 65 kg 1/8th final match against Uzbekistan's Sirojiddin Khasanov. Although going into the Games, the Indian grappler was one of the favourites to win a medal - Khasanov gave Punia an early reality check by racing into a three-nothing lead. Punia, however, completed a stunning comeback, first levelling the bout and then going on to win ten straight points (13-3). A total of thirteen consecutive points completed Punia's remarkable recovery and ensured that he doesn't share the same fate as much of his compatriots. Punia then produces
two more stunning results
, first beating Tajikistan's Abdulqosim in the quarterfinal (12-2). He then thrashed his semifinal opponent, Batmaglai Batchuluum of Mongolia by winning the first ten points (10-0). The Indian grappler's heroics sent the fans into deep nostalgia, as they remembered a similar performance from the 2014 Asian Games. On that occasion, it was the legendary Yogeshwar Dutt, who fought off heavyweights from all over Asia on his way to a gold medal. The legendary Indian grappler had won medals on the biggest of stages, before the 2014 Asian Games as well. Dutt most notably won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. However, his legacy is not restricted to just Asiad and Olympic medals.
Dutt ensured that Indian wrestling has a bright future, as well, and in turn gave us Bajrang Punia.
The four-time Olympian took Punia under his wing in 2015, and in turn, has helped the young grappler achieve some magnificent results. Under Dutt's tutelage, Punia won the Bronze medal at both the Asian and the World Wrestling Championships. However, Dutt's most significant contribution to Punia's life came when he left the 61 Kg weight category for his protege. As a result, the youngster was able to compete in the 2014 Asian and Commonwealth Games. Punia won the Silver medal at both those multi-sport events.
Furthermore, the former-Olympian also told Punia to shift his weight category from 61 to 65, to become eligible for the Olympics. The 24-year-old once again listened to his mentor, and it yielded results. He won the Gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. When Bajrang Punia went through his opponents one-by-one today morning, he showed a similar spirit and tenacity as Dutt. All his hard work led Punia to one final bout against his Japanese opponent. Ounia stunningly started the bout, racing into a six-nothing lead with less than a minute gone. However, there were signs of complacency from the Indian grappler, as he lost his edge. The Japanese Takatani came back from six down to level the match. However, the 24-year-old Indian once again showed his resilience to lead his opponent once again. Ten-eight was the score going into the final few seconds, but Punia held on to win the bout, and in turn, India's first Gold medal of the 2018 Asian Games. In doing so, Punia repreated the feat of his coach, mentor, and friend Yogeshwar Dutt, who had achieved the same feat four years ago.
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