India’s Bajrang Punia clinched gold in the men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling in Commonwealth Games 2022 on Friday. Bajrang’s efforts took India’s medal tally to 22 at the ongoing Games in Birmingham. The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist beat Lachlan McNeil of Canada in the final (9-2) to finish on the podium and continue India’s dominance in wrestling at CWG. India had won 102 medals in wrestling at the Games before the start of this year’s edition making it the country’s second-most prominent sport only behind shooting, which is not a part of CWG 2022. This was Bajrang’s third Commonwealth Games medal in as many events. He had won silver in his maiden CWG in 2014 and then bettered the colour four years ago in Gold Cost by winning a gold.
Bajrang made light work of his opponents in in the semi-final, quarter-final, and in the round of 16, advancing to the gold medal bout without losing a single point. The 28-year-old Indian registered a victory by techincal superiority (10-0) as his opponent, England’s George Ramm, was unable to score any points before Bajrang reached 10 points, in a one-sided semi-final lasting only 91 seconds.
He had comfortably beaten Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou of Mauritius with a victory by fall (6-0) to book his spot in the semi-final.
Bajrang had started off the Games by blowing Naurau’s Lowe Bingham in his opening bout. The Indian ace wrestler, who has entered the field as the defending champion, measured his rival for about a minute and then put him on the mat from a lock position to finish the bout in a jiffy. Bingham had no clue what struck him as the wrestler from the island nation was at sea.
Bajrang’s journey to Brimingham has not been a bed of roses. He has been struggling with injuries ever since winning bronze with a knee niggle in Tokyo. He had even pulled out of the ranking events in Istanbul due to injury concerns.
In the lead up to the Commonwealth Games, Bajrang trained in Michigan, USA which did his physical strength a world of good.
Earlier, Anshu Malik got India off the mark with a silver medal in women’s 57kg category. She lost to Nigeria’s Odunayo Adekuoroe 3-7 in a close-fought final.