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World Wrestling Championships: Bajrang Punia loses semifinal amidst controversy

Bajrang Punia lost the semifinal in a controversial manner at the World Wrestling Championships, but secured a berth in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

PTI PTI
New Delhi Updated on: September 19, 2019 18:06 IST
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Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Ravi Kumar seal Tokyo Olympic berths

Bajrang Punia lost his semifinal bout against home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov under controversial circumstances after he secured his place in the Tokyo Olympics along with debutant Ravi Dahiya at the World Wrestling Championships here on Thursday.

Bajrang's frustrated coach Shako Banitidis kicked the coach's block in anger, protesting the partisan officiating during the 65kg bout, which ended 9-9 after a nerve-wracking six minutes.

Since Niyazbekov was given a bigger throw of four points in the bout, he was declared winner.

In the controversial bout, the referee gave ample time to tiring Niyazbekov to catch his breath and he was not given warning at least thrice. Instead, the home wrestler was awarded four points when they should have gone to Bajrang for effecting that throw at the edge of the circle.

Several times, Bajrang raised his hands in frustration but to no avail.

The last edition silver medallist Indian will now have to fight for the bronze medal on Friday.

Ravi Dahiya, who felled a few stars on his way to the semifinals, also lost his semifinal bout 4-6 to reigning world champion Zaur Uguev from Russia and will fight for the bronze.

Ravi also made it to the Tokyo Olympics in 57kg after stunning Arsen Harutunyan, the 61kg European champion from Armenia and 2017 world champion and world number three Yuki Takahashi of Japan.

Making full use of an easy 65kg draw, Bajrang steam-rolled one opponent after another earlier in the day to reach the semifinals.

Earlier, Punia, currently ranked World No.1, entered the semi-finals in the 65-kg weight category after beating North Korean grappler Jong Son 8-1 in the quarter-finals to confirm his seat on the flight which will be heading to Tokyo next year.

Before that, he had defeated David Habat of Slovakia 3-0 in the pre-quarterfinals. Earlier in the day, Punia kicked off his campaign with a 9-2 win over Poland's Krzysztof Bienkowski.

Meanwhile, Kumar booked his tickets for the Tokyo Games after upsetting former World Champion Yuki Takahashi 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the 57-kg weight category.

Before that, Kumar overcame a stiff challenge from Armenia's Arsen Harutyunyan and emerged victorious by winning the bout 17-6 in the pre-quarterfinals. He had opened his campaign by thrashing Sunggwon Kim of Korea 11-0.

On Tuesday, Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat secured India's first Olympic quota in wrestling by winning the bronze medal in 53 kg freestyle category.

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