Wrestler Bajrang Punia overcomes head injury to create history
Bajrang Punia, with a bandaged head, became the only Indian to claim four medals at the World Wrestling Championships by clinching a bronze in the current edition, in Belgrade, Serbia on Sunday (September 18).
Bajrang, who won a bronze in last year’s Tokyo Olympics, eked out a close 11-9 win on points over Sebastian C Rivera of Puerto Rico in one of the bronze medal bouts in the 65 kg category.
He had suffered a cut to his head during the opening round and to control bleeding his head was bandaged. And during the entire tournament, he fought with a bandaged head.
Bajrang, who lost to John Michael Diakomihalis of USA in the quarterfinals, qualified for the bronze medal contest through repechage round where he defeated Vazgen Tevanyan of Armenia 7-6 by points.
It is Bajrang’s third bronze at the worlds. The celebrated Indian wrestler had earlier won a bronze at in 2013, silver in 2018 and bronze in 2019.
India had fielded a 30-member team for the ongoing World Championships but produced a below-par performance, securing just two medals.
Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya had crashed out early and failed to secure a podium finish.
Besides Bajrang, Vinesh Phogat won her second World Championship bronze medal in the women’s 53kg category. Vinesh had defeated Emma Malmgren of Sweden 8-0 to claim the bronze in Belgrade.
(With Agency inputs)