Bajrang Punia, a gold medalist at the Commonwealth and Asian Games and an Olympic bronze medalist, won the men’s 65 kg bronze medal on the final day of the World Wrestling Championships 2022 on Sunday (September 18). Bajrang, who was competing with a bandage covering his head owing to the injury he received during his pre-quarterfinal match, produced a valiant comeback against Sebastian Rivera of Puerto Rico after falling behind 6-0 in the first round.
As the second session came to a close, the 28-year-old had eventually trimmed the deficit to 8-9. The bronze medalist from Tokyo 2020 then turned the tide with a two-point takedown in the closing 20 seconds to win the match 10-9. At the world championships, Bajrang won a medal for the fourth time. He entered this tournament as India’s most successful wrestler at the world championships with his silver in 2018 and his bronze in 2013 and 2019.
Prior to that, he overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat under-23 world championships silver medalist Vazgen Tevanyan 7-6 in the repechage round. On Saturday, Bajrang, who won the CWG gold in the 2018 and 2022 editions, started with a 5-4 victory over Alejandro Valdes of Cuba, a two-time world bronze medalist. Punia advanced to the next round, but due to a head injury, he had to compete in the following round while wearing a bandage.
The top wrestler from India later fell to former Pan-American champion John Diakomihalis of the USA in the quarterfinals, but after Diakomihalis advanced to the final, the wrestler was given a second chance. India sent a strong 30-member delegation to compete in Greco-Roman wrestling, men’s and women’s freestyle wrestling, and other events at the world championships in 2022. Ten wrestlers from India competed in each of the three divisions.
Vinesh Phogat, a three-time Commonwealth Games champion, took home a bronze medal in the women’s 53kg division, but Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Ravi Kumar Dahiya was unable to do the same in the men’s 57kg division. At the most recent world championships, which were held following the Tokyo Olympics, India also brought home two medals. Women’s 57kg Anshu Malik took home silver, while 59kg Sarita Mor took home bronze.