World Championships: Brave Bajrang Punia beaten by tough tie-breaker
Bajrang (65kg) rallies from 2-7 down to tie bout at 9-9 before controversially losing semi-final to local grappler Niyazbekov; qualifies for Tokyo Olympics along with Ravi Dahiya (57kg)
Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan): Bajrang Punia lost his semi-final bout against home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov under controversial circumstances after sealing his Tokyo Olympics quota along with Ravi Dahiya, who made his presence felt in a star-studded field at the World Wrestling Championships here yesterday.Bajrang's coach Shako Benitidis kicked the coach's block in anger as the 65kg bout ended 9-9 after a nerve-wracking six minutes. Since Niyazbekov had a bigger throw of four points in the bout, he was declared the winner.
In the fiercely-fought contest, the referee gave ample time to a tiring Niyazbekov to catch his breath and he was not given a caution at least thrice. Instead Niyazbekov was awarded four points when it was Bajrang, who effected a throw at the edge of the circle. "I challenged it and they should have given at least two points to Bajrang for that hold," said coach Benitidis. Several times, Bajrang raised his hands in frustration but to no avail. The last edition's silver medal-winning Indian will fight for the bronze today. "It was clear that the mat chairman favoured the home wrestler," said a coach, who did not wish to be named.
India's Ravi Dahiya is declared the winner against Korea's Kim Sunggwon. Pic/PTI
Bajrang steam-rolled one opponent after another to reach the semis. He eased past Poland's Krzysztof Bienkowski 9-2. Next man, David Habat too didn't bother him. In the quarters against Korea's Jong Choi Son, Bajrang lost a point for stepping out but went on to win 8-1. Meanwhile, Ravi (57kg), who lost 4-6 to reigning world champion Zaur Uguev of Russia, will fight for the bronze today. Ravi also made it to the Tokyo Olympics after stunning Arsen Harutunyan, the 61kg European champion from Armenia and World No. 3 Yuki Takahashi of Japan. In a remarkable turnaround, he erased a six-point deficit to log 17 points in a row to shock Harutunyan. Ravi's first victim was Korea' Sunggwon Kim. In the quarter-finals, Ravi beat Takahashi 6-1.
According to Article 31 of United World Wrestling rulebook, "In case of a tie by points, the winner is declared by successively considering: (i) highest value of holds, (ii) least amount of cautions, (iii) last technical point scored. So, while Bajrang and Niyazbekov were tied at 9-9, the latter was adjudged the winner due to his high four-point hold.
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