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Ravi Kumar Dahiya wins gold in Istanbul, Bajrang Punia to practice in Iran

Bajrang Punia (extreme right) at the Tokyo Olympics
Bajrang Punia (extreme right) at the Tokyo Olympics
Navneet Singh

India’s Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia will practice in Iran to prepare for the upcoming Asian Wrestling Championships scheduled to be held in Mongolia in April.

According to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Punia will practice in Iran for 45 days to prepare for the continental competition.

The 27-year-old skipped the Yasar Dogu competition, held from February 24-27 due to a lower leg injury.

“Since the Asian meet in April is more important, it was a wise decision to skip the Istanbul competition as the minor injury could have worsened,” a WFI official told Sportskeeda.

Meanwhile, India’s Tokyo Olympic Games silver medalist Ravi Kumar Dahiya made a flying start to the 2022 season by winning gold at the Yasar Dogu wrestling tournament, a world rankings series, late Sunday night in Istanbul.

After trailing 8-10, the Indian wrestler bounced back to defeat Uzbekistan’s Gulomjon Abdullaev 11-10 to win gold in the men’s 61kg freestyle event. It was Dahiya’s first tournament since his silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Overall, the Indian wrestling squad won four medals, including a bronze in the Greco Roman category through Gyanendra in 60kg.

Olympian Deepak Punia beat Kazakhstan's Elkhan Assadov 7-1 to win bronze in the men’s 92kg freestyle event. Punia finished fourth at the Olympics in the men’s 86kg category. Aman Kumar was the third Indian wrestler to earn a podium finish as he won bronze in the men’s 57kg freestyle division.

However, Indian female wrestlers failed to impress at the World Ranking Series in Turkey. On her comeback after a disappointing outing at the Tokyo Olympics India’s star wrestler Vinesh Phogat wasn’t at her best. She bowed out in the semis of the women’s 55kg freestyle. It was Vinesh's first major tournament of the season.

The Indian wrestling squad will next compete at the Asian Championships in April.

“We will shortly organize a national camp for both men and women’s group to prepare for the continental competition,” a WFI official said on Monday.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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