Former Asian and Commonwealth Games winner Bajrang Punia established his superiority in the men’s freestyle 65kg division, winning the gold medal at Birmingham 2022 by beating Lachlan McNeil of Canada 9-2 in the final on Friday.
Later, Sakshi Malik pinner her opponent to win the women’s 62kg title and secure India’s second wrestling gold. Deepak Punia then made it three for India by beating Pakistan’s reigning gold medallist Muhammad Inam in the men’s 86kg final. Meanwhile, Anshu Malik lost the women’s 57kg final and settled for silver.
Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Punia, who won gold medal four years ago in Gold Coast, came out with aggressive intentions and did not allow his young Canadian opponent much chances, forcing two takedowns in the first period itself to go 4-0 up.
The Canadian was a bit too defensive in the first period but launched a good attack at the start of the second period to reduce the margin to 2-4. But Punia, a World No 1 in his division, was up to the task and effected two one-leg takedowns to widen the margin again. He got another point when he pushed his opponent out of the bout area with another one-leg hold. With a few seconds remaining, the 27-year-old Indian wrapped up the bout with another take down to seal a 9-2 victory and claimed the gold medal in authoritative manner.
Sakshi, who seemed to have gone off the boil after her success in the Rio Olympics, missing some events and got upstages by younger opponents, made a brilliant comeback both in her bout on Friday and her career as she stomped her authority.
Her opponent, who had come to Canada from Mexico at a very young age with her family seeking political asylum, is strong grappler having won medals in World Championships
She started aggressively and effected two takedowns in the first period to take 4-0 lead. But Sakshi fought back strongly in the second period, going on an attack and taking two points. She then counterattacked brilliantly and effected a fall by pinning her opponent’s shoulder to the mat to win the match.
The young wrestler started his campaign on a high as he outclassed New Zealand’s Matthew Oxenham in his opening bout. It was a one-sided fight where Deepak clinched a 10-0 victory to reach the quarterfinals. There was no stopping for him after that as he replicated the same show in the quarterfinals against Sheku Kassegbama of Sierra Leone.
Anshu settles for silver
India’s Anshu Malik had to be satisfied with a silver medal in the women’s freestyle 57kg wrestling after losing to Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye of Nigeria in the final at the Victoria Park Arena in Coventry on Friday.
Anshu, who had dominated her way to the final with easy wins, found the Nigerian wrestler’s defense too strong to breach as she lost 3-7 on points.
The Nigerian wrestler, a three-time CWG winner, dominated the first period as she won four points, pulling Anshu down twice and getting technical points. Anshu launched some desperate attacks in the second period as she bagged one point followed by a two-point takedown.
The Nigerian capitalised on Anshu’s aggressive tactics and launched a counterattack and earned three points — two for a takedown.
With just seconds remaining on the clock, Anshu launched a desperate attack and effected a takedown but she was denied the points on appeal as she could not execute the attack fully.
The Indian wrestler was clearly disappointed with her performance and left the mat with tears in her eyes.
Sri Lanka’s Nethmi Porthotage and Hannah Taylor of Canada won the bronze medals in the women’s 57kg.
Divya takes bronze
Divya Kakran clinched a bronze in 68kg, winning the medal play-off in just 26 seconds against Tonga’s Tiger Lily. Divya had got a tough 68kg draw as she found Tokyo Olympic silver medallist and 11-time African champion Blessing Oborududu from Nigeria in her campaign-opener. The first round was worth a final though but Divya was outplayed by the formidable Nigerian. The Asian Games bronze medallist won her repechage round against Blandine Nyeh Ngiri by fall.