World Championship bronze an inspiration for upcoming challenges: Bajrang Punia

Bajrang Punia had headed into Nur-Sultan Wrestling World Championships with as the overwhelming favourite (IANS Photo)

Ace Indian grappler Bajrang Punia has insisted that he will not consider the bronze medal he won at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships as “victory”, but will use it as a motivation to perform better in the future.

Bajrang Punia now has 3 World Championships medals, including podium finishes in successive editions. The Asian Games gold medallist had won his first World Championships medal — a bronze in 2013. He finished with a silver in 2018 in Budapest.

“Sometimes defeat teaches you something which even a victory cannot. I will not consider this bronze medal as a victory for myself but will use it as an inspiration to face upcoming challenges. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat,” Punia tweeted in Hindi on Saturday.

On Friday, the 25-year-old fought back from a 0-6 deficit to defeat Mongolian Tulga Tumur Ochir 8-7 in the 65-kg bronze medal bout in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. This was Punia’s second consecutive senior Worlds medal and third overall.

Bajrang started on the backfoot against Ochir, the U-23 Asian Champion. The Indian wrestler trailed 2-0 and the defecit became 6 points when the Mongolian came up with stunning 4-point throw towards the end of the first period. However, Bajrang, known for 2nd period comebacks, was at it again as he clinched 8 points to hold off the Mongolian wrestler.

Bajrang Punia had headed into Nur-Sultan Wrestling World Championships with as the overwhelming favourite and was looking set for a finish on the top step of the podium until he encountered local wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov.

Alongwith Punia, Ravi Kumar Dahiya also bagged bronze in the 57-kg category after he beat Iran’s reigning Asian champion Reza Atri 6-3 to win his maiden Worlds medal.

Both Punia and Dahiya had sealed a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by qualifying for the bronze medal round. This took India’s haul to three medals at Nur-Sultan with Vinesh Phogat winning bronze in the women’s 53kg category. The last time India won as many medals was in the 2013 World Championships and one more can make this the country’s best ever performance in the prestigious event.