Bajrang Punia falls at Otoguro hurdle at Asian Wrestling Championships

The Indian wrestler endured a difficult time against the former world champion as he lost the 65kg freestyle final 2-10.

By Naveen Peter

It was dubbed as the match-up of the Asian Wrestling Championships. 

But the final of the 65kg freestyle category barely lived up to the billing as former world champion Takuto Otoguro of Japan beat India’s Bajrang Punia 10-2 to win the title in what was a rather lopsided bout.

Having eased past Bajrang Punia at the 2018 World Championships final, one was expecting the Indian wrestler to put up a fight against the Japanese in front of his home crowd on Saturday.

But the world no. 2 wrestler, Bajrang Punia, was often found in an unusual position as Otoguro seemed to have a reply to every attacking move of his opponent.

Going for a single-leg attack in the initial exchanges, Bajrang Punia managed to grab hold of the Japanese’s leg. But Otoguro was quick to wriggle his way out of the Indian wrestler’s grasp and counter him with a takedown for the opening points.

Bajrang Punia was often found himself in an unusual position against Japan's Takuto Otoguro. Photo: UWW

With neither grapplers finding a way to contain the other in what was a high-intensity bout, it eventually came down Otoguro’s smartness as he allowed Bajrang Punia to continue with his attacking forays, only to find ways to counter it with his own takedowns to pocket the valuable points. 

Ravi Kumar Dahiya claims maiden gold

Bajrang Punia’s loss in the final, however, did not dampen the mood inside the at the KD Jadhav Stadium as another local favourite Ravi Kumar Dahiya went on to win his first-ever Asian Wrestling Championships gold in a dominant manner. 

Up against Tajikistan's Hikmatullo Vohidov, the Indian wrestler was at his attacking best as he barely let his opponent settle before inflicting damage with quality takedowns to expose him on to the mat.

And all it took was 28 seconds for the Indian wrestler to wrap up the show and win the gold medal on technical superiority (10-0).

Ravi Kumar Dahiya sealed his Olympic berth at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships. Photo: UWW

A silver lining for Gourav Baliyan, Satyawart Kadian 

Earlier, India’s Gourav Baliyan (79kg), Satyawart Kadian (97kg) too came up short against their respective opponents but left the Asian Wrestling Championships with silver medals around their necks.

In what a closely fought bout, Gourav Baliyan’s inexperience on the big stage cost him dear as Kyrgyzstan’s Arsalan Budazhapov recorded a 7-5 win for the gold medal. 

Meanwhile, Satyawart Kadian had no answer to Mojtaba Mohammadshafie Goliej’s quality as the Iranian walked away with the title following a comfortable 10-0 win on technical superiority. 

Where to watch the Asian Wrestling Championships

Finals of all the events of the Asian Wrestling Championships 2020 will be broadcast on Star Sports First and fans can also live stream the tournament on Hotstar and