Bajrang Punia wanted a medal from the Tokyo Olympics and he got one. He would certainly have hoped for a different color but in an intense weight category such as the 65kg, a third place finish is an excellent achievement.
After much hue and cry about Bajrang Punia being passive in yesterday's bouts, the Indian wrestler came out with positive intent today. He looked proactive and was on the lookout for points the moment the bout began.
After some persistent defense from Niyazbekov, Punia finally managed to break his opponents guard as the second round got underway. He completed 3 succesful take downs with some lightning-quick feet and body movement.
Punia won the bout 8-0 and bowed out of the mat with folded hands. It's probably a sweet taste of victory for the 27-year-old grappler. It certainly was for his friend and silver medalist from the Asian championships, Jitender.
Speaking to Sportskeeda's Rishabh Chauhan, Jitender said:
"We were all jumping after he won."
Bajrang Punia's hard work paid off
Being a wrestler himself, Jitender realizes the efforts it takes to compete at the top level. Bajrang Punia had been training hard in Russia to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Speaking about Punia's training in Russia and the consequent result at the Tokyo Olympics, Jitender said:
"This is what we trained for. And finally he has done it."
Jitender also mentioned that Punia was aiming to come back with a gold medal but could not win his semifinal bout against Azerbaijan's Haji Aliyev. He said:
"He was very disappointed yesterday but [he] said it is do or die now. [He said] Will give everything [in today's bout]."
Punia indeed gave everything for today's bout. It might not have won him a gold medal, but a bronze medal at the Olympics is an achievement to be proud of. He will take this medal in his stride and look to improve on his performance. Bajrang will want to return strongly for the upcoming Asian and Commonwealth Games.
Also read - India at Olympics 2021