Deepak Punia Reaches World Championship Final; Books Olympics Berth

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Deepak Punia has reached the final of World Wrestling Championships and is hopeful of winning the gold. He has secured his tickets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Written By Suman Ray | Mumbai | Updated On:
Deepak Punia

In India’s best-ever performance at the World Wrestling Championship, with three Indians bagging bronze medals, Deepak Punia (86kg) will now aim for an elusive gold as he becomes the second Indian ever to reach the Championship final in history. A month after winning the Junior World Championships, Deepak is now one win away from bagging gold which only Sushil Kumar had clinched in 2010 in Moscow. 

Punia gets his ticket to 2020 Olympics

The 19-year-old, who became the youngest Indian ever to make it to the final of the World Championships, also booked his ticket for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Deepak, who also won the World Cadet title in 2016, is thus the fourth Indian grappler to book his Tokyo tickets this week, following Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Ravi Kumar Dahiya. While each of them pocketed a bronze medal, Deepak will be the only Indian to return home with a medal of a better colour, guaranteeing India’s best-ever finish.

READ | Bajrang Punia punches ticket to Tokyo 2020, third Indian to qualify

Rahul Aware to contend for Bronze at the Championships

While Deepak was easily the star of the show on the penultimate day of the championships, Rahul Aware (61kg) also remains in contention for bronze in the non-Olympic category. Deepak made a slow and nervous start to his maiden campaign at the Worlds but showed terrific maturity and presence of mind to turn the tables. Trailing 0-5 against the home favourite Adilet Davlumbayev, Punia stormed back to complete an 8-6 comeback win. Against Tajikistan’s Bakhodur Kodirov, Punia never relinquished his control to secure a commanding 6-0 win and then followed it up with a gritty and hard-fought 7-6 victory over Carlos Arturo Izquierdo Mendez of Colombia that gave him the prized Olympic berth.

READ | Deepa Malik joins Bajrang Punia for Khel Ratna, Ravindra Jadeja among 19 other Arjuna awardees

In the semi-finals, Deepak beat Switzerland’s Stefan Reichmuth 8-2 to set up a final showdown with Olympic and world champion Hassan Aliazam Yazdani Charati of Iran. Commonwealth Games gold medallist Rahul Aware made a thunderous start to his challenge with an emphatic 13-2 victory over Turkmenistan’s Kerim Hojakov. Against Kazakhstan’s Rassul Kaliyev in the last-eight round, the Indian had to dig deep and relied on his finesse to secure a 10-7 victory. Aware came up short against the European Championship silver medallist Beka Lomtadze of Georgia, 6-10 in a very fast semi-final match. Meanwhile, Jitender (79kg) lost in the quarter-finals to Slovakia’s Taimuraz Salkazanov 0-4. In 97kg, Mausam Khatri was completely outplayed by the reigning Olympic champion Kyle Frederick Snyder of the USA in 0-10 verdict. With both their opponents failing to reach the finals, Jitender and Khatri bowed out of the championships.

READ | Bajrang Punia wins gold in Bulgaria, dedicates medal to Abhinandan Varthaman

READ | Sakshi Malik loses her first bout in World Wrestling Championships

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