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Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik’s Twin Wrestling Golds Boost India’s Commonwealth Games -by Ecork

Wrestler Bajrang Punia won a gold medal for India in CWG 2022© AFP

Bajrang Punia gave India its first gold medal in the sport of wrestling at the ongoing 2022 Commonwealth Games, as he beat Canada’s Lachlan McNeil in the men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling final. Minutes later, 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik eliminated Canada’s Ana Gonzalez in the women’s 62kg category to add the second gold of the sport for India. The joy on the mat did not end there as Deepak Punia added the third gold of the night by beating Pakistan’s Muhammad Inam in the men’s 86kg category.

Bajrang is an Olympic bronze medalist (Tokyo 2020) and also has another gold and a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games to his name. He has one silver and two bronze medals to his name at the World Championships. Bajrang started his Commonwealth Games career with a silver in the 61kg category in Glasgow in 2014. He won a silver in the Asian Games in Incheon, the same year. He moved up to the 65kg category in 2018 and won gold at the CWG in Gold Coast followed by the Asiad gold in Jakarta. The biggest moment of his career came in 2021 when he became an Olympic medalist, taking bronze in Tokyo.

For Sakshi Malik on the other hand, this is the first gold medal in CWG. He won a silver in the 58kg category in 2014 and a bronze in the 62kg category in 2018.

For Deepak, a World Championships silver medalist in 2019, this is the first gold medal in a senior event.

It was a technically complete fight from Bajrang in the final as they beat Canada 9-2 on points.

Such was Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang’s dominance in the 65kg competition that he won three of his four bouts in the first rounds.

The 28-year-old defending champion beat Naurau’s Lowe Bingham and Mauritius’ Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou ‘by fall’ before winning by technical superiority against England’s Geroge Ramm.

Canada’s Lachlan Maurice McNeil fought well against Bajrang but the Indian was superior in technique and strength.

Bajrang has been struggling to play freely since last year and his defensive tactics put a question mark on his ability to extend his reign in the international arena but on Friday he made his moves unimpeded.

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However, CWG is not the best platform to judge if Bajrang has regained its mojo due to the lesser quality of the site.

(With PTI inputs)

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