Indian star boxer and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia made headlines when he beat Canadian Lachlan McNeil in the final of the men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling at the Commonwealth Games 2022 on Friday. The 28-year-old dominated the entire match, defeating McNeil with a score of 9-2 to claim the gold medal on August 5.
It was also India’s first gold medal in wrestling after Anshu Malik was defeated in the women’s 57kg category final earlier on the night. Bajrang’s victory helped India to increase its medal tally to 22, equalling South Africa and climb to the sixth position in the table.
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The win over Canadian wrestler Lachlan McNeil also marked Bajrang Punia’s third medal at the Commonwealth Games. He had won a silver medal in the 2014 edition of the mega event, which he followed with a gold in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018. It was also the second time in his career when he faced a Canadian wrestler in the final of the Commonwealth Games, however, did not repeat his mistakes from the Glasgow edition as he cruised to the gold medal comfortably.
Bajrang Punia started his Commonwealth Games 2022 campaign on a strong note, defeating Lowe Bingham of Nauru in the pre-quarterfinals under two minutes. He continued his impressive performance against Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou of Mauritius in the quarterfinal, before beating Englishman George Ramm by technical superiority under a minute in the semifinals.
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Bajrang Punia has been one of India’s most dependable figures in top international events. He had also won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, when he defeated Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan.
After the gold and silver medal hauls of Bajrang Punia and Anshu Malik, Deepak Punia will take the centre stage when he competes in the men’s 86kg final against defending champion Muhammad Inam of Pakistan.