While an injured Deepak Punia (86kg) had to settle for the silver medal, Rahul Aware clinched a bronze in 61kg to finish India’s best-ever World Wrestling Championships campaign with five medals that includes one silver and four bronze at Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan tonight. A day after becoming the youngest Indian wrestler to enter the final of this prestigious tournament, an ankle injury put paid to the 19-year-old Deepak Punia’s hopes of fighting for the gold. The youngster, who is also the reigning world junior champion, had injured his ankle during his first bout last night which got aggravated during the course of the day. That necessitated his withdrawal from the final where the gold went to the Olympic and world champion and Hassan Aliazam Yazdani Charati of Iran.
Punia clinches Silver; Aware wins Bronze
“I am a bit disappointed that I couldn’t fight for the gold but I am happy with my overall performance here. I will work hard and the aim is to win a medal in the Olympics,” said Deepak Punia. The biggest achievement of Rahul Aware’s career came after he beat Tyler Lee Graff of USA 11-4 in the 61kg non-Olympic category bronze medal bout. Even though the Commonwealth Games gold medallist was trailing by 2 points initially, he made a quick turnaround and stormed back to lead 4-2. In the second period, Aware’s aggression helped him score points easily for a 10-2 lead before completing the victory.
India's best-ever campaign
Punia and Aware were the fourth and fifth wrestlers, respectively to add medals to India’s tally this time which helped the contingent better its previous record haul of three medals in the 2013 World Wrestling Championships. Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Ravi Kumar Dahiya are the others who won a bronze in this edition. The last three along with Deepak Punia also bagged Olympic quotas for the country from the World Championships which was the first qualifier for the 2020 Games. With the kind of confident performances Indian grapplers have put up, a lot can be expected of them in Tokyo next year.