Commonwealth Games 2022 wrestling: Deepak Punia beats Pakistan’s Muhammad Inam to win gold

Indian wrestler Deepak Punia won the gold medal in the men’s 86kg freestyle wrestling category at Birmingham 2022.

By Utathya Nag
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Olympian Deepak Punia dominated the men’s 86kg wrestling event at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham on Friday and finished with a gold medal.

Deepak Punia, a world championships silver medallist, beat Pakistani wrestler Muhammad Inam in the gold medal match at the Coventry Stadium and Arena to earn his maiden CWG podium finish.

“It was great fun. Deepak is an extremely good fighter which is why he won gold," Inam conceded. "But I would love to have more contests with Indian wrestlers.

“There is no hate. The more sporting competition that we can have between us, the better the relations between the people,” Inam said about the Indo-Pak rivalry.

In a high-octane gold medal showoff against Muhammad Inam, a two-time Commonwealth Games champion from 2010 and 2018, Deepak Punia was the early aggressor and put his opponent on the defensive.

The Indian wrestler soon opened the scoring by pushing Inam out of bounds and seconds later, added another point to his tally through a passivity penalty imposed on the Pakistani grappler.

With a 2-0 lead and the luxury to dictate the pace of the match, Deepak Punia kept chipping away at his opponent in the second period and added one more point to his tally.

It was a matter of game management from there on as Deepak Punia saw off the remaining time on the clock and wrapped the bout 3-0.

"It is a very proud moment for me," Deepak Punia said. "There is no greater feeling than standing on a podium with a gold medal around your neck, the Indian national anthem playing, and having a crowd like this cheering you on."

Deepak Punia, who narrowly lost out on the bronze medal at Tokyo 2020, beat New Zealand wrestler Matthew Oxenham and Sierra Leone’s Sheku Kassegbama, both by technical superiority, in the pre-quarterfinals and quarters, respectively.

Alex Moore Canada, a former junior Pan-American champion, proved to be a far tougher opponent in the semis and Deepak Punia had to dig deep to eke out a 3-1 win to earn himself a medal bout.

Alex Moore and Australia’s Jayden Lawrence ended with the two bronze medals in the category.

GO OLYMPIC. GET ALL THIS.

Free live sport events. Unlimited access to series. Unrivalled Olympic news & highlights.