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Bajrang clinches Asiad gold

Bajrang clinches Asiad gold
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Wrestler Bajrang Punia clinched Indias first gold medal in the 18th Asian Games after defeating Takatani Daichi of Japan in the mens 65 kg freestyle...

Jakarta: Wrestler Bajrang Punia clinched India's first gold medal in the 18th Asian Games after defeating Takatani Daichi of Japan in the men's 65 kg freestyle title bout, in Jakarta, on Sunday.

An in-form Bajrang won his maiden Asian Games gold in the 65kg category but a 'rusty' Sushil lost his last chance to add an Asiad gold to his collection of medals after losing his qualification bout 3-5 to Bahrain's Adam Batirov in the 74kg category.

Bajrang came into the Games after winning three tournaments -- Commonwealth Games, Tbilisi Grand Prix and Yasar Dogu International -- and carried on with his superlative show. Such was his domination that the 24-year-old from Haryana won all his bouts, till the final, by technical superiority.

He outclassed Uzbekistan's Sirojiddin Khasanov (13-3), Tajikistan's Fayziev Abdulqosim (12-2) and Mongolia's N Batmagnai Batchuluu (10-0) to storm into the gold medal bout.

In the final, he was tested by Japan's Takatani Daichi but Bajrang held his nerves to prevail 11-8 in an exciting battle. He raced to a 6-0 lead but the Japanese kept at it and put Bajrang under immense pressure.

"I dedicate this gold medal to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away recently," Bajrang said after the final bout.
"Yogi bhai (Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt) told me 'I did it in 2014, you have to do it in 2018'.

When he (Yogeshwar) won, it was huge gap in his and the previous Asiad medal. I wanted to continue with medal," he added. Bajrang emulated his mentor Yogeshwar Dutt, who won gold in the last edition, and is now one of the few Asiad gold medal winners in wrestling.

Kartar Singh (1978, 1986), Satpal Singh (1982), Rajinder Singh (1978), Changdi Ram (1970) and Maruti Mane (1962) are among Asiad gold winners from India.

Sushil Kumar (74kg) and Sandeep Tomar (57kg) though crashed out even as Mausam Khatri (97kg) and Pawan Kumar's (86kg) fate was still hanging in balance in their respective categories as they wait if they get repechage rounds.

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