NUR-SULTAN (KAZAKHSTAN), September 19: Bajrang Punia qualified for Tokyo Olympics by strolling into the semifinals while Ravi Dahiya joined him with shock victories over his more fancied rivals in the World Wrestling Championships here on Thursday.
However both the Indian wrestlers lost in their semifinal bouts later in the day. They will now contest for bronze medals on Friday.
Ravi lost 4-6 to Zaur Uguev of Russia in 57kg semifinal while Punia lost in a thriller in the 65kg weight category. After being down 2-9 down against Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan, Punia made an amazing comeback to make it 9-9, but lost eventually.
Earlier, making full use of an easy 65kg draw, Bajrang steam-rolled one opponent after another to stay on course for his maiden World Championships title. He had won a silver in Budapest in 2018.
Double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar is the only Indian wrestler to have won a World Championship gold in 2010 in Moscow.
Ravi (57kg) emerged an unlikely hero for India with his remarkable composure while fighting against some of toughest opponents in a challenging category, including an European champion and another a world number three wrestler.
Both Bajrang and Ravi are now strong candidates for medals.
In the semifinals, Bajrang will be up against Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan while Ravi faces reigning world champion Zavur Uguev of Russia.
Vinesh Phogat had booked an Olympic quota in women’s 53kg on Wednesday.
Bajrang did not have to work much in going past Poland’s Krzysztof Bienkowski in the opening round. He easily beat his opponent 9-2.
Bajrang’s next opponent was David Habat who did not bother the Indian much though the Slovenian twice had his right leg in his clutches. The first chance was in first period from ground position and then in the standing position after the break. (PTI)