Jakarta, Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia on Sunday clinched the gold in the men’s freestyle 65 kg category even as veteran Sushil Kumar suffered a shock first-round defeat in the 74-kg category at the 18th Asian Games here.
Bajrang defeated Daichi Takatani of Japan 11-8 in the final. It was his second successive gold medal at the Asian Games after his triumph in Incheon 2014 in the 61-kg category. It was also the first gold for India at this year’s Asiad.
Sirojiddin Khasanov of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan’s Sayatbek Okassov took the bronze medals.
However, it was a day to forget for veteran star Sushil Kumar as the double Olympic medallist suffered a shock defeat to Adam Batirov of Bahrain. Sushil seemed sluggish and off-colour right from the start during his rather lacklustre 3-5 defeat to Batirov.
Batirov lost 2-8 to Japan’s Yuhi Fujinami in the quarter-finals which ended Sushil’s chances of entering the repechage round.
The final of the 65-kg category witnessed a tough battle as the Japanese gave a good fight after struggling in the initial stages against Bajrang.
Bajrang raced away to a 6-0 lead within the first couple of minutes before Daichi fought back to take four consecutive points, going into the break.
The second round saw a tough, see-saw battle. Daichi equalised at 6-6 shortly after the restart. Both wrestlers fought tooth and nail in the final two minutes before the Indian emerged a deserving winner.
Earlier, Bajrang crushed Sirojiddin on technical superiority in his campaign opener.
Bajrang struggled in the early stages as Khasanov opened up a comfortable 3-0 lead. But the Indian staged a strong comeback by notching up six consecutive points to lead 6-3 at he break.
Bajrang completely dominated the second and final round, scoring seven points within two minutes to take a 13-3 lead which saw him being adjudged the winner due to technical superiority.
A wrestler is considered winner by technical superiority when he leads by 10 or more points.
Bajrang thrashed Fayziev Abdulqosim of Tajikistan by technical superiority in the quarter-finals. He had opened up a formidable 9-2 lead in the first round. The Haryana grappler took three points in the opening 30 seconds of the second round to take a decisive 12-2 lead.
Bajrang registered another technical superiority verdict, this time by 10-0 against Batmagnai Batchuluun of Mongolia in the semi-finals.
The other Indian wrestlers faced disappointment in their respective weight categories with Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg) and Mausam Khatri (97kg) failing to reach the podium.