As we head towards the final stages of Tokyo Olympics, Wrestling was one of the sports where several medals are up for grabs. India's performance at the Games so far have proven to be a mixed bag, as the nation boasting of its largest ever contingent, has managed to win just five medals so far, while a six medal has been claimed by Bajrang Punia.
Among India's strong seven member contingent in Wrestling, Bajrang Punia was the nation's brightest hope of securing a medal. The 27-year-old participated in Men's 65kg freestyle event on August 6, as he enters the category as the second seed. All eyes were on the Indian, as Wrestling was expected to bring home atleast two medals. And the wrestlers didn't disappoint, Ravi Kumar Dahiya claimed Silver Medal and Bajrang Punia claimed Bronze Medal by defeating D. Niyazbekov at Tokyo Olympics.
As he prepares to 'Go for Gold' in a few days time, let us have a look at some of his prior achievements.
Two-time Asian and Commonwealth Games medalist
Bajrang Punia is a two-time Asian Games medalist, having secured a silver medal in 2014, and following up with a gold medal at Jakarta in 2018. He defeated the Japanese wrestler, Takatani Daichi by a score line of 11-8 in the finals to claim the gold medal in 2018. That year proved to be one of the most important years in his career, as he also took the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Three-time medalist at World Championships
Bajrang Punia is a three-time medalist at World Championships, with his latest one coming in his current category of 65kg. The Indian wrestler bagged a bronze medal in the Championships held in 2019, which ensured his qualification at the Tokyo Olympics. Moreover, he also claimed the silver medal at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, which goes to show his consistency.
Seven-time Asian Championships medalist
Bajrang Punia has been a consistent performer on the continental stage, winning seven medals for his country. Just prior to the Olympic Games, Bajrang Punia won a silver medal at the Asian Championships which were held in Almaty. More importantly, Punia has won two titles at the same event in 2017 and 2019, both of which have come in the same category.
Bajrang Punia is a highly decorated athlete, and his achievements in the past couple of years show his consistency on the biggest stages. He failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and is ready to make up his absence with a medal in Tokyo. A silver medal is the least that the nation expects from the talented wrestler, who could go on to script history by becoming only the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold.
Tokyo Olympics Bronze Medalist
The 27-year-old participated in Men's 65kg freestyle event and lost to H. Aliyev from Azerbaijan in Semi Final but defeated D. Niyazbekov from Kazakhstan in the Bronze Medal match in Tokyo Olympics.