New Delhi, 8 October: Deepak Punia put up a brave fight before going down to Iran’s Hassan Yazdani via technical superiority and settled for a silver in the 86kg freestyle wrestling at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday.

 With this silver medal, India ended their campaign in wrestling at the Asian Games with six medals. All five other medals are bronze.

The 24-year-old Deepak tried hard but his rival the Rio 2016 Olympic champion and Tokyo 2020 silver medalist was far too agile and quick for him. Hassan Yazdani was eight points up in the first round including two takedowns. Deepak Punia put up a fight early in the second round but the Iranian proved too strong and defended his Asian Games title.

Deepak opened his campaign in the round of 16 with a convincing win over Randa Riandesta of Indonesia via technical superiority. He defeated Japan’s Shota Shirai 7-3 in the quarterfinal and edged past Bahrain’s Magomed Sharipov 4-3 for a spot in the final.

Last year, Deepak Punia won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 86kg bracket. He is also the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the same category.

The other three Indian wrestlers competing on the day – Yash (74kg), Vicky (97kg) and Sumit (125kg) – failed to win medals and did not progress to the repechage rounds.

Yash won his opening match against Chheang Chhoeun of Cambodia via technical superiority. However, he lost to Magomet Evloev of Tajikistan in the quarter-finals on the same grounds.

Meanwhile, Vicky and Sumit were blanked in their opening rounds by Kazakhstan’s Alisher Yergali and Kyrgyzstan’s Aiaal Lazarev, respectively.

With six medals in wrestling from Hangzhou, Indians doubled their tally from the 2018 Asian Games. However, Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Vinesh Phogat (50kg) bagged gold medals in 2018 while India’s best result at Hangzhou was Deepak Punia’s silver.

Greco-Roman wrestler Sunil Kumar,  freestyle wrestler Aman Sehrawat and women’s wrestlers Antim Panghal, Sonam Malik and Kiran Bishnoi won the medals for India this time.


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