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Bajrang Punia settles for silver at wrestling World Championships

Only the fourth Indian ever to make it to the World Championship gold medal match, 24-year-old Bajrang was rattled by the 19-year old Otoguro, who consistently attacked the left leg of Indian and emerged a comfortable 16-9 winner. In the process, Otoguru became Japan’s youngest World Champion at the age of 19.

A four-point throw gave Otoguro an early 5-0 lead, leaving Bajrang to play a catch-up game. With back-to-back take downs, the Indian reduced the deficit to 4-5.

The Japanese got more points with a step out and led 7-6 at the break. An early take down at the start of second period handed Otoguro a 9-6 lead.

The Japanese kept attacking Bajrang’s left leg, a strategy which the Indian struggled to counter. The Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang eventually had to settle for a silver, which is his second medal at the Worlds. He had won a bronze in 2013 edition. Sushil Kumar, country’s greatest ever wrestler, is the lone Indian to win a gold medal at the Worlds, achieving the feat in 2010 in Moscow in the 66kg category.

Apart from Sushil, Amit Dahiya (2013) and Bishambar Singh (1967) are the other Indians to make it to the World Championship final in men’s free style. Udey Chand (bronze, 1961), Ramesh Kumar (bronze, 2009), Narsingh Yadav (2015) are the other men’s free style wrestlers to win a medal at the World Championship.

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