Bajrang Punia wins India’s first gold in wrestling at CWG 2022
The Indian wrestler was the defending champion in his category at Commonwealth Games.
Bajrang Punia defeated Lachlan McNeil of Canada to win gold in men’s freestyle 65kg category wrestling at Commonwealth Games 2022. The final bout lasted the entire duration of six minutes with Bajrang winning it by a margin of VPO1 (9-2).
Bajrang faced practically no challenge as he qualified for the final without losing a point. He won against Lowe Bingham (4-0) of Nauru, Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou (6-0) of Mauritius, and George Ramm (10-0) of England in the pre-quarterfinals, quarterfinals and semis respectively.
With gold in CWG 2022, Bajrang completed a hat-trick of CWG medals as he also won gold in 2018 Gold Coast and silver in 2014 Glasgow. This is India’s seventh gold medal in the ongoing CWG 2022.
A consistent performer
Bajrang Punia, 28, hails from Jhajjar, Haryana. He is a Chattarsal Stadium trainee and belongs to a family of wrestlers. During his formative years, he was trained by Ramphal Mann in Delhi. Later, he was coached by London Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt. However, in 2015, he switched his base to Sonepat so that he could enroll himself in the regional centre of Sports Authority of India (SAI).
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He is a force to reckon with at the international level. His most notable achievement came last year – a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He is also the reigning Asian Games champion as he stood atop the podium in the 2018 Jakarta edition.
He has a silver too against his name which he won in the 2014 Incheon edition of the Asian Games. Bajrang Punia is the only Indian wrestler to win three medals at the World Wrestling Championships (1 silver and 2 bronze).
A warrior at heart
Bajrang has seen numerous ups and downs in his life. He had to fight with economic struggle to make a name for himself in the world of wrestling. He dealt with not one but two injuries in the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics and still secured the third rank. Bajrang, who also works as an Indian Railway officer, was conferred with the Padma Shri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards in 2019.