Deepak Punia: Milkman's son, who started wrestling to earn money, misses Olympic medal by whisker
Deepak Punia's contested in a hard-fought match, where he missed out on a bronze medal by a whisker at the Tokyo Olympics.
Deepak Punia came down to the wrestling mat today to earn India's second medal in the sport at the Tokyo Olympics. He was dubbed to win the bronze medal against San Marino's Myles Nazeem Amine in the 87kg category bout.
Punia started his bout on a promising note and did exactly what he needed to do to win the match and clinch the medal.
It was a close-fought clash for the bronze, with Punia leading 2-1 till the last minute. He held his guard and maintained a solid defence throughout the match. Just 30 seconds were left on the clock when Amine charged him, and he bagged crucial three points to walk away with the medal.
Despite a superb defence, the San Marino wrestler grabbed the decisive two-pointer after getting hold of the Indian's right leg and converted it into a take-down in the dying moments of the bout.
It was an anti-climactic end of Punia's journey where he missed out on the medal by a whisker.
Punia saw a meteoric rise in his career in the past couple of years, as he had established himself as one of the top contenders in his category. Hailing from the Jhajjar district in Haryana, Punia became the Junior World Champion in 2019. He was the first Indian to do so in 18 years. In the same year, he won the silver medal at the World Wrestling Championships in the freestyle 86 kg category.
Deepak belongs from a humble background. His father, Subhash Punia is a milkman and farmer by profession and spotted the spark in his son's abilities early.
He was just six years old when he won his first open dangal at an annual fair in his village. His father, Subhash, also dreamt of becoming a professional wrestler but had to give up on his dreams due to family responsibilities. However, he wanted his son, Deepak, to pursue the sport, regardless of their current situation.
Deepak Punia might have lost his semifinal bout against the experienced American athlete, David Morris Taylor, but gave his all trying to claim a bronze medal the following day. Given that he is in his early 20s, there is a lot more to come from the youngster who will aim for a gold medal at Paris 2024.
The highlight of Deepak Punia's campaign at the Tokyo Olympics came in his quarterfinal bout against the Chinese wrestler Lin Zushen, whom he defeated with just seconds remaining on the clock. He has shown immense maturity, representing his nation in his first-ever Olympic Games.