World Wrestling Championships: Bajrang Punia overcomes head injury, wins fourth medal to become most successful Indian wrestler at Worlds

Wrestling - Olympics: Day 14
India's Bajrang Punia at the Tokyo Olympics. (PC: Getty Images)

Bajrang Punia won his fourth medal at the World Wrestling Championships, beating Puerto Rico's Sebastian Rivera 10-9 to claim bronze in the men’s 65kg freestyle category on Sunday (September 18).

Thanks to his exploits, India finished with two medals from this year's World Wrestling Championships. Vinesh Phogat had earlier won the bronze medal in the women's 53kg category.

India finished with two medals in the previous edition of the World Wrestling Championships, which were held after the Tokyo Olympics, as well. Anshu Malik won silver in women's 57kg while Sarita Mor won bronze in 59kg.

Bajrang, who was wrestling with a bandage on his head due to an injury he sustained in his pre-quarterfinal bout, produced a spirited fightback after being 0-6 down. The 28-year-old eventually cut the lead and was trailing 8-9 heading into the last minute of the second period.

The Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist then pulled off a two-point takedown in the final 20 seconds to turn the tables on Rivera and win the bout 10-9.

How Bajrang Punia won his fourth career medal at the World Wrestling Championships

The bronze medal was Bajrang Punia's fourth medal at the World Championships. With his silver medal in the 2018 edition and bronze medals in 2013 and 2019, he is now India's most successful wrestler at the Worlds.

Earlier, he won his repechage round against Under-23 World Wrestling Championships silver medalist Vazgen Tevanyan 7-6. Bajrang had to stage a comeback on that occasion as well after being 1-4 down at the end of the first period.

The 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medalist began with a 5-4 win over Cuba's two-time world bronze medallist Alejandro Valdes. Though he progressed to the next round, he suffered an injury and had to fight the next round with a bandage on his head.

Read: US teenage wrestler Amit Elor celebrated her victory in style at the Belgrade Worlds

Bajrang lost to former Pan-American champion John Diakomihalis of the USA in the quarter-finals. However, he entered the repechage after Diakomihalis made it to the final.

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