August 7, 2022
Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik’s twin wrestling gold boosts India’s tally of Commonwealth Games


Wrestler Bajrang Punia wins gold medal for India at CWG 2022© AFP

Bajrang Punia won India its first gold medal in the sport of wrestling at the ongoing Commonwealth Games 2022 as he defeated Lachlan McNeil of Canada in the men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling final. Minutes later, 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik overcame Canada’s Ana Gonzalez in the women’s 62kg category to add a second gold from the game for India.

Bajrang is an Olympic bronze medalist (Tokyo 2020) and has another gold and a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games to his name. He has one silver and two bronze medals in the World Championships. Bajrang started his Commonwealth Games career with a silver medal in the 61kg category in Glasgow in 2014. He won a silver medal at the Asian Games in Incheon the same year. He moved up to the 65kg category in 2018 and won gold at the CWG in Gold Coast followed by the Asiad gold medal in Jakarta. The biggest moment of his career came in 2021 when he became an Olympic medalist by winning a bronze medal in Tokyo.

At the same time, this is the first gold medal for Sakshi Malik in the Commonwealth Games. He won silver in the 58kg category in 2014 and bronze in the 62kg category in 2018.

It was a technically correct match with Bajrang in the final as he defeated Canada 9-2.

Such was the dominance of Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang in the 65kg event that he won three of his four bouts in the first round.

The 28-year-old defending champion defeated Nauru’s Louv Bingham and Mauritius’ Jean Guillian Joris Bando by ‘fall’ before winning by technical superiority against England’s Geroge Ram.

Canada’s Lachlan Maurice McNeill put up a good fight against Bajrang but the Indians were much better in technique and stamina.

Bajrang has been struggling to play freely since last year and his defensive strategy put a question mark on his ability to expand his dominance in the international arena but on Friday he made his move without a hitch.

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However, the Commonwealth Games is not the best platform to decide whether Bajrang has got his mojo back due to poor field quality.

(with PTI inputs)

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