Deepak Punia books Tokyo Olympics quota, to fight for gold at World C’ship

Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan), Sept 21:
Reigning junior world champion Deepak Punia placed himself in line for the senior world title by reaching the 86kg final apart from booking his Tokyo Olympics quota, here today.
Competing in his maiden senior World Championship, Deepak moved to the final with a commanding 8-2 win over Switzerland’s Stefan Reichmuth.
He will fight for the title against 2016 Rio Olympics 74kg gold medallist Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran on Sunday. Yazdanicharati had also won 2018 Asian Games 86kg gold.
It has been a steady progress for Deepak, who won the World Cadet title in 2016 and became junior world champion only last month in Estonia. He can now emulate double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar who is till now the only Indian to have won a World Championships title in 2010.
The 20-year old Deepak also ensured that India will return from the World Championship with its best ever performance as the country is now assured of four medals.
Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya have already won a bronze medal each. All of them qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as well.
Rahul Aware can make it even better if he wins Sunday’s bronze medal bout in the 61kg non-Olympic category. He lost his semifinal bout 6-10 to Beka Lomtadze of Georgia.
India had returned with three medals in 2013.
Deepak’s all-round ability — defence, attack, stamina and awareness on the mat — played a key role in his memorable performance.
Also doing a commendable job was Aware who reached the bronze medal round in the 61kg non-Olympic category after reaching the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Jitender lost his 79kg quarterfinal while Mausam Khatri lost his first round in 97kg to reigning Olympic champion Kyle Frederick Snyder to go out of the championship since their opponents failed to reach the finals.
In 97kg, Mausam Khatri was no match to his American opponent. The Indian lost by technical superiority. (PTI)