Before leaving for Jakarta, Bajrang Punia had promised to reciprocate Tata Motors Commercial Vehicle Unit’s gesture to support the Wrestling Federation of India with an Asian Games medal. He lived up to his promise, winning all his bouts at Jakarta.
The first step on the mat at Jakarta wasn’t too heartening for Bajrang Punia. India’s biggest hope in wrestling was down 0-3 in whisker against Uzbekistan’s Sirojiddin Khasanov. The start was disappointing and disheartening for the Indian fans, who shortly before had seen Sushil Kumar falling at the first hurdle.
Bajrang Punia didn’t take long to lift the gloom. He scored 13 points on the trot to win his opening bout on Technical Superiority with a 13-0 verdict against the Ujbek. There was no stopping for Punia thereafter.
He followed up the form and his domination in the quarter-final with a 12-2 verdict against Tajikistan’s Abdulqosim Fayziev. A semi-final appearance had assured Punia and India of their first medal from the mat at Jakarta.
The 24-year-old protégé of Yogeshwar Datt had bigger plans and his form deserved much better. When other Indian wrestlers were disappointing the camp, Poonia was on a role. Unstoppable and unbeatable. Scoring at will.
The semi-final was an all-Poonia show from the moment the referee signalled action for the Indian ace and Mongolia’s Batmagnai Batchuluun. Technical Superiority and 10-0 was the verdict as Punia cruised into the final. The bouts have been a testimony to Punia’s strength on the mat.