Almaty (Kazakhstan), April 17
Haryana wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya retained his Asian Championship title with an impressive performance but Bajrang Punia settled for silver after withdrawing from the much-awaited final against Japan’s Takuto Otoguro due to an elbow injury today.
Bajrang later said he did not want to aggravate the injury in his right elbow. He had started feeling the pain in the elbow during the quarterfinal against Korean Yongseok Jeong. “When I was pulling the Korean, the pain in my right elbow resurfaced. It’s the same elbow that I had injured during the World Championship. The coaches advised that I must not take risk so close to the Olympics, so I withdrew,” Bajrang said.
Bajrang did not look his usual self but did not face much competition en route the 65kg category final.
Bajrang had lost the 2018 World Championship title clash and last year’s Asian Championship final to the Otoguro and could have tested himself against the Japanese.
Dahiya, though, gave India the first men’s freestyle gold of this edition with a commanding show. His stamina and relentless attacking prowess were too good for his opponents in the 57kg category as he returned to the mat after a year in style.
He was slow off the blocks but comfortably beat Uzbekistan’s Nodirjon Safarov in the opening bout before defeating Palestine’s Ali MM Aburumaila on technical superiority. His title clash against Iran’s Alireza Nosratolah Sarlak was expected to be a close affair, but Dahiya only got better and better as the fast-paced final progressed. There were attacks from both the wrestlers but Dahiya’s superiority was obvious as he won 9-4. Karan bagged the 70kg bronze medal after winning 3-1 against Korea’s Seungbong Lee.
Also reaching the medal round were Narsingh Pancham Yadav (74kg) and Satywart Kadian (97kg), who will fight for bronze after losing their respective semifinals. — TNS, agencies