Deepak Punia’s debut in the World Wrestling Championships ended in heartbreak as he pulled out of his title clash against Iranian Hazsan Yazdani due to an ankle injury that he suffered during his first bout on Saturday. The 20-year-old will be awarded the silver medal in the 86kg men’s freestyle category after he had reached the final thanks to some sterling performances. While Deepak Punia was disappointed that couldn’t fight for gold, the junior world champion said that he was happy with his overall performance, setting his sights on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I am a bit disappointed that I can’t fight for gold but I am happy with my overall performance here. I will work hard and the aim is to win a medal in the Olympics,” Deepak Punia said.
Deepak Punia’s left ankle was injured during his first bout on Saturday and the injury was aggravated as he made his way to the final of the prestigious tournament.
The young Indian wrestler had defeated Switzerland’s Stefan Reichmuth in the last four and was slated to face 74kg Olympic champion and 86kg Asian Games champ Hassan Yazdani of Iran in the final on Sunday.
“The left foot is not taking the load. It’s difficult to fight in this condition. I know it was a big chance to fight against Yazdani but I can’t help it,” Deepak told news agency PTI.
Deepak Punia, who is also the junior World Champion, beat his Swiss opponent 8-2 in the semis. He became India’s fifth-ever senior World Championships finalist with Sushil Kumar being the sole wrestler to win a gold medal.
Before his semifinal, he defeated Colombia’s Carlos Arturo Mendez, Kodirov Bakhodur of Tajikistan and Kazakhstan’s Adilet Davlumbayev.
By reaching the top four, Deepak Punia sealed a berth for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
India have bagged three bronze medals in the prestigious tournament as Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya won their bronze medal bouts in the repechage round.
Rahul Aware will fight for a bronze medal in 61kg category later today.