Wrestler Rahul Aware: This one's for Maratha sports history
State grappler Rahul proud to be first from western India region to win medal, a bronze at World C'ships; injured Deepak Punia settles for silver
Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan): Rahul Aware won the biggest medal of his career a bronze, while an injured Deepak Punia settled for a silver after pulling out of the final as India celebrated its best-ever performance at the World Wrestling Championships here yesterday. Aware outclassed Tyler Lee Graff, the 2017 Pan- America champion, 11-4 in the 61kg bronze play-off to take India's tally to five medals.
Deepak, the reigning Jr world champion, did not take the mat against Iranian great Hasan Yazdani due to an ankle injury, sustained during the semi-final. "The left foot is not taking the load. It's difficult to fight," said Deepak, who had left the mat limping and with a swollen right eye after his semi-final against Switzerland's Stefan Reichmuth on Saturday. The other medal winners in this edition are Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya and Vinesh Phogat. India's previous best show was at the 2013 edition — three medals through Amit Dahiya (silver), Bajrang Punia (bronze) and Sandeep Tulsi Yadav (bronze in Greco-Roman)
"I could have won a gold. It was within reach but I botched it up in the first period of the semi-final [v Beka Lomtadze]," said 2018 CWG gold winner Aware, 27. Wrestling, of late, has dominated by Haryana's grapplers and Aware is proud to be the first from Maharashtra to win a senior World medal. "Maratha sports history will remember me. I am first from the region to do this," he said.
The greatest Maharashtra wrestler undoubtedly is late KD Jadhav, who won independent India's first individual medal, a bronze at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
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