It was a maiden Commonwealth Games gold medal for both Indian wrestlers.

At CWG 2022, wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Deepak Poonia presented a double gold delight at Commonwealth Games 2022. Sakshi Malik stood atop the podium in the women’s freestyle 62 kg category, while Deepak Punia secured the gold medal in the men’s freestyle 86 kg category.

Both the respective finals witnessed high intensive wrestling. Sakshi was up against the Pan American champion – Ana Paula Godinez Gonzalez from Canada in the gold medal match. The scores were tied at 4-4 when Sakshi grabbed her opponent and made her fall straight on the mat, thus winning the tie by ‘victory by fall’ decision.

On the other hand, it was an Indo-Pak affair in the men’s freestyle 86kg category final. Deepak Punia and Muhammad Inam battled it out till the last moment. Inam was rated to be the favourite as he is a two-time Commonwealth Games champion. However, it was Deepak, who claimed the all-important bout 3-0 to end yet another memorable day for India at the CWG 2022.

In the leadup to the final, Deepak dropped only a single point whereas Sakshi didn’t let any of her opponents open their points tally. Interestingly, both Deepak Punia and Sakshi Malik hail from the state of Haryana.

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Sakshi Malik back in the reckoning

Sakshi soon went out of the limelight after her historic bronze at Rio Olympics in 2016. Back then, she became India’s first female wrestler to win an Olympic medal and continues to remain so. In CWG 2014 edition at Glasgow, she had a silver against her name.

She slipped a rank lower in CWG 2018 at Gold Coast as she had to settle for silver. However, the gold at CWG 2022 in Birmingham means that she has again regained her supremacy!

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Watch out for Deepak Punia

Deepak, only 23, is already being labelled as the next big thing in Indian wrestling. At the Tokyo Olympics last year, he missed bronze by the barest of margins. At the Wrestling World Championships in 2019, Deepak had to settle for silver because an injury forced him to forfeit the final. A gold at CWG 2022 further testifies his class and calibre.

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