Bajrang Punia defeated Tulga Ochir of Mongolia 8-7 in the men's freestyle 65kg bout to win a bronze medal for India in the ongoing World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Friday. Bajrang Punia was trailing 2-6 after the first break but came back strongly to turn the game in his favour. Bajrang Punia won the match by a margin of one point. In the other bout, Ravi Dahiya defeated Iran's Reza Atrinagharchi 6-3 to win another bronze medal for India in the prestigious tournament. On Thursday, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to take place in 2020.
Ochir put Bajrang under a lot of pressure from the beginning as he pushed the Indian outside the mat to take the lead. He locked Bajrang's arms to prevent attacks and then effected a four-point throw to lead 6-0. Bajrang got on board with a counter and true to his style made a superb comeback in the second period.
He first erased the deficit and then took lead with a flurry of moves to eventually nail a narrow 8-7 win.
Bajrang had won a silver medal last year and a bronze in the 2013 edition in Budapest. It was his first tournament of the season where Bajrang did not make the final though he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in this championship.
"I will never forget what they did to me. I was so heartbroken that I did not even want to fight for the bronze. The whole world saw what they did. I had worked so hard for the World Championship gold. I appeal to the UWW to do something about it," Bajrang told PTI after his win, referring to his semi-final defeat.
"My coaches told me medal is a medal so I agreed to compete in this bout. I am glad I gave India third World medal," he added.
Bajrang had lost to home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov in the semifinal under controversial circumstances on Thursday.
Asked if he found his defence lacking since he has been trailing in his bouts, Bajrang replied, "No, that's my style. I do well after trailing. I have been doing that for years."
In the run up to the World Championships, he won titles at all four competitions -- Dan Kolov in Bulgaria, Asian Championship in China, Ali Aliev in Russia and Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia. Last year also, it was only at the Asian Championship in Bishkek where he did not reach the final, finishing with a bronze.
(With PTI inputs)