India at the Olympics | Sport

Tokyo Olympics | Bajrang ouwitted by Aliev, to fight for bronze; Seema makes early exit

Azerbaijan's Haji Aliyev competes against Bajrang Punia during the men’s freestyle 65kg semifinal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, in Chiba on August 6, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw

Triple World championships medallist Bajrang Punia defied a dodgy knee to stay in contention for a bronze medal in the men’s freestyle 65kg category at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

The second-ranked Bajrang, who injured his right knee during the Ali Aliyev memorial tournament in Russia in June, wrestled intelligently to beat Ernazar Akmataliev of Kyrgyzstan 3-3 (via criteria) and Morteza Ghiasi of Iran ‘by fall’ to enter the semifinals.

In the last-four contest, Bajrang lost to Rio Olympics bronze medallist and three-time World champion Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan 12-5 to make it to the repechage round.

Bajrang will meet either Worlds silver medallist Kazakh Daulet Niyazbekov or multiple African champion Adama Diatta of Senegal in the bronze medal contest on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Indian overcame a strong challenge from Akmataliev to reach the quarterfinals. At 1-1, Bajrang pounced on the Kyrgyz wrestler’s defensive lapse to bring about a takedown and grab a decisive 3-1 lead in the closing seconds of the first period.

As Akmataliev pressed, Bajrang showed his presence of mind to let the Kyrgyz earn two push-out points in the final 20 seconds. The Indian’s two-pointer in the first period was enough to fetch him victory.

Bajrang beat Asian bronze medallist Ghiasi in an exciting bout. He conceded a point in the opening period owing to passivity. Served with another passivity notice after the break, Bajrang counterattacked in style to gather two points first and then pin his rival on the mat.

Bajrang opened his account with a passivity point against Aliyev in the semifinals, but gave away four points when the Azerbaijani attacked his legs for two takedowns.

Bajrang came out of his shell to bridge the gap but Aliyev countered and used the double-leg twists to collect four important points.

Bajrang’s takedowns reduced the margin to 5-9.

However, Aliyev wrestled smartly to make it 11-5.

A desperate video referral challenge from Bajrang was in vain.

An off-colour Seema lost to Tunisian Sarra Hamdi 3-1 in a women’s 50kg first round bout. Sarra’s 10-0 defeat to multiple Olympic medallist Mariya Stadnik in the quarterfinals ended Seema’s hopes for a repechage appearance.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 5:43:47 PM |

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