Punia bows to Irani idol

Almaty, April 18

Young Jhajjar wrestler Deepak Punia learnt a hard lesson today as he went down to the Olympics and world champion Hassan Yazdani of Iran 10-0, in under three minutes, in the final of the 86kg division at the Asian Wrestling Championships here today.

Punia’s defence fell apart in front of his idol Yazdani, whose relentless attacks left the youngster clueless.

It was the first time that the 22-year-old Punia was fighting the 2016 Olympics champion, who is a two-time world champion too. In 2019, Punia had reached the World Championship final against the Iranian legend but had withdraw due to a leg injury.

Punia was unable to thwart Yazdani’s attacks to his legs which led to him losing ground rapidly right from the start. The bout was stopped when Yazdani took a 10-0 lead.

Another Indian earning a podium finish today was Sanjeet (92kg), who almost blew away a commanding position against Uzbekistan’s Rustam Shodiev before winning the bronze playoff 11-8. He led 11-2 at one stage but let the Uzbekistan wrestler clawed his way back. Eventually the big lead helped the Indian claim bronze.

Ravinder (61kg) lost

his bronze playoff to Kyrgyzstan’s Ikromzhon Khadhimurodov by technical superiority.

Run to final

Earlier, showing tremendous skills in defence, Punia, who had won two bronze medals at the continental championship before, reached the final with a 2-0 win over South Korea’s Gwanuk Kim. Kim’s several double leg attacks bore no fruit in the face of Punia’s solid defence.

The Indian, who secured his Olympics quota with a World Championship bronze, earned both his points on passivity of his opponent. Punia’s defensive tactics skills earlier won him bouts against Uzbekistan’s Isa Shapiev (9-2) and Tajikistan’s Bakhodur Kodirov (4-3).

In the 61kg division, Ravinder began with a close 4-3 win over Iran’s Majid Almas Dastan but lost 4-7 in the semifinals to Kazakhstan’s Adlan Aakarov.

Sanjeet was impressive in his 9-4 win against Japan’s Ryoichi Yamanaka but was no match to Iran’s Kamran Ghorban Ghasempour, who won by technical superiority. Since the Iranian reached the final, Sanjeet got a chance to fight for bronze.

In the 74kg category, national champion Sandeep Singh Mann and Sumit Malik (125kg) could not reach the medal round. Mann lost a close quarterfinal 4-5 to Turkmenistan’s Atamyrat Charlyyev while Malik lost his quarterfinal 1-7 to local hope Oleg Boltin.

India won seven medals from the men’s freestyle event with only Ravi Dahiya (57kg) managing to win a gold. — TNS, Agencies

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