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Tokyo 2020: Bajrang Punia Through to Semis; Will Face Rio Olympics Bronze Medallist Haji Aliyev

Bajrang Punia wrestles during his opening bout of Tokyo Olympics (AFP Photo)

Bajrang Punia wrestles during his opening bout of Tokyo Olympics (AFP Photo)

Bajrang Punia was trailing 0-1 when the first period came to an end but then quickly took the lead at 2-1 before securing the victory.

Bajrang Punia, the last medal hope for India in wrestling at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, has qualified for the men’s free-style 65kg semifinals after pinning down Morteza Ghiasi of Iran in the second period of their quarter-finals bout on Friday.

Bajrang will now face Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan who won the bronze medal of the event at the Rio Games in 2016.

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He was trailing 0-1 when the first period came to an end but then quickly took the lead at 2-1 before securing the victory. This was after the 27-year-old Indian nearly avoided an upset defeat against Kyrgyzstan’s Ernazar Akmataliev in his opening bout.

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A timely take-down move just before the end of the first period put the Indian ahead 3-1 but Akmataliev ran Bajrang close in the second period, getting two push-out points to level the scores.

Since Bajrang had the high scoring move, a two-pointer take down, he was declared winner on criteria.

It was not the most clean and fluent victories that he is known for, but was just enough for Bajrang, who came into the Games after suffering a minor knee injury during a local Russian tournament.

Earlier, debutant Seema Bisla of India failed to get out of the defensive trap of Tunisia’s Sarra Hamdi that saw her losing the 50kg opening round 1-3 of the women’s event.

Hamdi subsequently lost to Mariya Stadnik (0-10) in the quarter-finals putting an end to Seema’s chances of making it to the repechage round for a second shot at the medal.

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first published:August 06, 2021, 10:06 IST