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Rome Ranking Series: Bajrang, Ravi win gold medals

Bajrang Punia. File

Bajrang Punia. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

India returned with seven medals from the Rome Ranking Series

Bajrang Punia was far from his fluent best but still claimed gold while Ravi Kumar Dahiya showed sparkling form in his gold-winning effort as the two Indians kicked off the Olympic year in style at the Rome Ranking Series.

The 25-year-old Punia, staged a comeback to secure a 4-3 win against USA’s Jordan Michael Oliver in the summit showdown of the 65kg freestyle category on Saturday.

Dahiya, who competed in the 61kg category instead of his regular 57kg, bagged the gold after getting the better of Kazakhstan’s Nurbolat Abdualiyev 12-2 in his final bout on Saturday.

The 23-year-old from Sonepat had made it to the final round after securing impressive wins over Moldova’s Alexaandru Chirtoaca and Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev in the four-wrestler draw.

India, thus, returned with seven medals from the tournament.

Vinesh Phogat and Anhsu Malik won a gold and silver respectively in the women’s competition. In Greco-roman, Gurpreet Singh (82kg) won a gold, Sunil Kumar (97kg) a silver, while Sajan Bhanwal (77kg) settled for a bronze.

Punia admitted that he was not at his best. “Yes, the bouts were close. It’s just the first tournament of the season, so I was a bit rusty. I had a feeling going into this tournament and that the performance will be a bit up and down,” Punia told PTI.

“But having close bouts is not a worry, it’s good. It keeps me alert and gives me a chance to ponder over my shortcomings,” he said.

Punia’s personal coach Shako Bentinidis was not with him in Rome and that too affected the Indian wrestler.

Up against one of India’s biggest medal prospects in the Tokyo Olympics, Oliver conceded that it was not his night against Punia. The American lauded the competitive spirit of Punia.

Punia had to sweat it out in the first round against Zain Allen Retherford of USA before prevailing 5-4.

In the quarterfinal, the ace Indian wrestler went past another American Joseph Christopher Mc Kenna 4-2, before getting the better of Vasyl Shuptar of Ukraine 6-4 in the semi-finals.

However, it was curtains for Jitender in the 74kg and world championship silver medallist Deepak Punia in the 86kg category.

Jitender won his first bout against Denys Pavlov of Ukraine 10-1 before going down in the quarterfinals against Turkey’s Soner Demirtas 4-0.

Jitender got a change to fight in the repechage after Demirtas entered the final, but the Indian wasted the opportunity, losing 2-9 to Daniyar Kaisanov of Kazakhstan.

In the 86kg category, Deepak Punia crashed out in the opening round, losing 1-11 to Ethan Adrian Ramos of Puerto Rico.

Satyawart Kadiyan (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) also failed to reach the medal rounds.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 6:39:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/rome-ranking-series-bajrang-ravi-win-gold-medals/article30600002.ece

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