Shrugging off his controversial semifinal defeat, Bajrang Punia held off a spirited challenge from Mongolia's Tulga Tumur Ochir to bag his third World Championship medal, winning a bronze, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on Friday.
Ravi Dahiya, too, claimed a bronze on his debut World Championships by stunning Asian Champion Reza Atri Nagarchi of Iran. Dahiya defeated his fancied rival 6-3 in the bronze medal bout of the men's 57kg freestyle category.
Bajrang was already India's only multiple medallist at the Worlds and he consolidated his record with his 8-7 win over Ochir, the under-23 Asian champion.
Ochir put Bajrang under a lot of pressure from the beginning as he pushed the Indian outside the mat to take the lead. He locked Bajrang's arms to prevent attacks and then effected a four-point throw to lead 6-0.
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Bajrang got on board with a counter and true to his style made a superb comeback in the second period. He first erased the deficit and then took lead with a flurry of moves to eventually nail a narrow 8-7 win.
Bajrang had won a silver medal last year and a bronze in the 2013 edition in Budapest.
It was his first tournament of the season where Bajrang did not make the final though he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in this championship.
"I will never forget what they did to me. I was so heartbroken that I did not even want to fight for the bronze The whole world saw what they did. I had worked so hard for the World Championship gold. I appeal to the UWW to do something about it," Bajrang said after his win, referring to his semifinal defeat.
"My coaches told me a medal is a medal so I agreed to compete in this bout. I am glad I gave India the third World medal," he added.
Bajrang had lost to home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov in the semifinal under controversial circumstances on Thursday.
Asked if he found his defence lacking since he has been trailing in his bouts, Bajrang replied, "No, that's my style. I do well after trailing. I have been doing that for years."
In the run up to the World Championships, he won titles at all four competitions—Dan Kolov in Bulgaria, Asian Championship in China, Ali Aliev in Russia and Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia.
Last year also, it was only at the Asian Championship in Bishkek where he did not reach the final, finishing with a bronze.