Bajrang Punia won historic silver medal for India at World Wrestling Championships in Budapest,Hungary.
Bajrang lost to 19 year old Japanese wrestler Takuto Otoguro 16-9 in the final of 65kg Freestyle category.Haryana
grappler had a fabulous 2018 with gold medals at Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.Gold in Budapest would have
made him the first ever Indian to win golds at all the three major wrestling events in a calendar year.Bajrang was confident
of winning the final.However unfortunately the script was written in favour of Japanese in the final.Not only luck but referee also favoured him
as Otoguro was accused of time wasting in both the sessions in the final.That resulted in Japanese being booed during the bout.
Even doctors at United World Wresting agreed that Takuto was deliberately trying to take time outs.Referee gave him two cautions but it
was too late as Bajrang was trailing in both sessions.His personal coach,Shako Bentinidis from Georgia was telling the Indian to attack throughout
the bout.However 2013 World Championships bronze medallist looked confused as he opted to defend against his opponent in the final.
Takuto prevailed finally and Bajrang had to contend with silver medal ending his hopes of emulating double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar
who won gold in 2010 World Championships.Bajrang had threatened to take legal action against Sports Ministry for not recommending his name
for Khel Ratna,highest sporting award this year.His mentor and Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt persuaded him to ignore such action and instead
prepare for World Championships.Just over a month after awards were given in September,Bajrang proved that he is the worthy winner of prestigious
award with his silver medal finish in Budapest.
Another Haryana wrestler,Pooja Dhanda created history by becoming only fourth Indian female wrestler to win a medal at World Championships.
Before Pooja,only Alka Tomar in 2006 and Phogat sisters viz.Geeta and Babita in 2012 had won bronze medals at Worlds.This is Pooja’s second
big medal after 24 year old won silver at Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast,Australia.Interestingly Pooja had won all his bouts in Budapest except
against Ningning Rong of China in quarterfinals who went on to take gold medal in 57kg Freestyle.Pooja infact lost narrowly 4-3 in the last eight.
However she put behind the disappointment of that loss by winning her repechage and bronze medal bouts.She beat 2017 European Champion
Grace Jacob Bullen 10-7 in the bronze medal match..Pooja had beaten Olympic and World Champion Helen Maroulis in Pro Wrestling League at the
start of the year which has given her confidence to stay in the bracket of world beaters.
With medals pocketed at the Worlds,both Haryana wrestlers will be aiming for Olympic glory.However the competition will be tough in Tokyo 2020
as unlike at Worlds,there will be less weight categories.One thing is for sure,both Bajrang and Pooja have done entire nation proud and they are
bright medal prospects for India in 2020 Tokyo Olympics.