Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sep 21 : India's young wrestling sensation Deepak Punia stunned the wrestling world by entering the World Wrestling Championship finals in the 86kg weight category, here on Saturday.
Punia defeated Stefan Reichmuth of Switzerland convincingly by 8-2 and became the youngest Indian ever to make it to the finals of the WWC. Young Punia will now wrestle for the gold medal against the legendary Hassan Yazdani of Iran in the 86Kg category final on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Deepak had defeated Carlos Arturo Izquierdo Mendez of Colombia in the quarter-finals, to become the fourth Indian wrestler to secure a berth for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar have already made the cut for the 2020 Games and bagged bronze medals in their respective weight categories. He had defeated Turkmenistan's Kodirov 6-0 to reach the quarter-final.
In his first round contest, Junior World Champion Deepak Punia made remarkable comeback to recover from a 0-5 deficit to win 8-6 against Kazhakstan's Adilet Davlumbayev. Legendary wrestler Sushil Kumar is the only Indian to win a gold medal in the World Championships in the 66 kg category. Deepak Punia will have a chance to join the two-time Olympic medallist, if he can beat Yazdani.
Punia recently won gold at the Junior World Championships in Talinn, Estonia. Deepak defeated Russia's Alik Shebzukov to win the 86kg junior freestyle title which follows the silver he won in the category in 2018 in Slovakia.
Deepak is also the first Indian in 18 years to win a Junior World Championship title. He won the Cadet world championship in 2016 and missed out on a bronze in the junior worlds in 2017. Meanwhile, another Indian wrestler, Rahul Aware lost out to 2016 world championship silver medallist Beka Lomtadze in the semi-final.
Earlier, Aware won a close bout Rassul Kaliyev of Kazakhstan to book a semi-final berth but the category of 61kg being a non-olympic category, Aware’s effort will not give him Tokyo 2020 ticket.
Aware, who recently won a gold-medal at the Yasar Dogu will now play for bronze on the final day of the competition on Sunday. However, Jitender (79kg) lost his quarterfinal while Mausam Khatri lost his first round in 97kg, to reigning Olympic champion Kyle Frederick Snyder. (UNI)