Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Bajrang Punia stayed in the hunt for the bronze medal after making it to the repechage rounds in the men’s 65kg weight division at the World Wrestling Championships 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday.
Bajrang Punia, India’s most successful wrestler at the world championships with one silver and two bronze, began the day with a hard-fought 5-4 win over Cuba’s two-time worlds bronze medallist Alejandro Valdes.
Though Bajrang Punia won the bout, the Indian ace picked up a cut on his head and had to get bandaged up.
Wrestling with the injury, Bajrang Punia’s hopes of a first gold medal at the world championships ended after losing to former Pan-American champion John Diakomihalis of the USA in the quarter-finals.
The Indian wrestler struggled against his younger opponent and lost 10-0 via technical superiority. However, John Diakomihalis made it to Sunday’s final, pulling Bajrang Punia into the repechage.
Youngster Sagar Jaglan, meanwhile, lost his bronze medal bout 6-0 to reigning Asian champion Yones Aliakbar Emamichoghaei of Iran.
Sagar Jaglan made it to the 74kg bronze medal bout after winning his repechage round 7-3 against Mongolia’s Suldkhuu Olonbayar earlier in the day.
On Friday, the 18-year-old Sagar beat Israel’s Mitchell Louis Finesilver and Mexico’s Diego Antonio Sandoval Zarco via technical superiority. Sagar Jaglan, however, was pinned by Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist and eventual finalist Kyle Dake of the USA in the quarter-final.
India’s other two wrestlers competing on the day could not make it past the qualification rounds.
Vicky Chahar was tied 2-2 with two-time European championships silver medallist Samuel Scherrer of Switzerland at the end of the second period in 97kg. However, Samuel Scherrer scored the last point of the bout to claim the victory by criteria.
Pankaj Malik, wrestling in 61kg, was beaten 5-4 by last year’s under-23 world championships bronze medallist Assyl Aitakyn of Kazakhstan.
Sunday will be the final day of the world championships 2022. India have fielded a strong 30-member squad for the championships but Vinesh Phogat’s bronze remains the only medal for India at this edition.
Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya had failed to clinch a medal in 57kg on Friday.