CWG 2022: Bajrang Punia wins gold in men's 65kg category
Star Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia was a class apart while defending his title as he conceded just two points en route the gold medal show while birthday girl Anshu Malik grabbed a silver in her maiden Commonwealth Games, here on Friday.
Such was Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang's dominance in the 65kg competition that he won three of his four bouts inside first rounds.
The 28-year-old defending champion beat Naurau's Lowe Bingham and Mauritius' Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou 'by fall' before winning by technical superiority against England's Geroge Ramm.
Canada's Lachlan Maurice McNeil fought well against Bajrang but the Indian was far superior in technique and stamina.
Bajrang has been struggling to play freely since last year and his over defensive tactics put a question-mark over his ability to extend his dominance in international arena but on Friday he made his moves without inhibition.
However, the CWG is not the best platform to judge if Bajrang has got his mojo back because of the inferior field quality. Anshu, who has taken rapid strides in her career, reached the women's 57kg final with similar dominance but ended up second-best with a silver medal.
The Nidani wrestler, who turned 21 on Friday, won by technical superiority against Australia's Irene Symeonidis and Sri Lanka's Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando Poruthotage.
It did not take Anshu much time to measure her opponents. Her trademark aggression and quality was too hot to handle for her rivals till the gold bout.
The World Championship silver medallist though could not breach the defence of Nigeria's Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye, losing the gold bout 3-7. The Nigerian was strong with her defence and Anshu could not find a way to make her moves.
She left mat with tears in her eyes as it was not the birthday present she wanted to give herself.
For Sakshi Malik, who has been battling for relevance for long, it was an ideal opportunity to get some confidence back and she used it to optimum level in the 62kg contest. She began by pinning home team wrestler Kelsey Barnes and followed that with a technical superiority win against Cameroon's Berthe Emilienne.
In her two bouts, she did not concede a single point and will now clash with Canada's Ana Paula Godinez Gonzalez for her first CWG gold. She has a bronze and silver in her CWG collection.
Also making the gold medal round was Deepak Punia (86kg) who did not look his dominant and quick self but still won his bouts without giving a point to his rivals.
The wrestler from Chhara village began with technical superiority win over Matthew Clay Oxenham from New Zealand and beat Canada's Alexander Moore 3-1, setting up the gold medal bout against Pakistan's Muhammad Inam.
Divya Kakran though got a tough draw as she found Tokyo Olympic silver medallist and 11-time African champion Blessing Oborududu from Nigeria.
The first round was worth a final though Divya was outplayed by the formidable Nigerian. The Asian Games bronze medallist won her repechage round against Blandine Nyeh Ngiri by fall.
She will now face Tonga's Cocker Lemalie Tiger Lily in the bronze play-off.
Also fighting for bronze will be Mohit Grewal (125kg), who won against Cyprus' Alexios Kaouslidis 10-1 but lost his semifinal to Canada's Amarveer Dhesi by technical superiority.
He is up against Jamaica's Aaron Anthony Johnson.