Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar seal Tokyo berths despite loss in semis

Nur-Sultan: Ace Indian grapplers Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya on Thursday secured two quotas for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after entering the semi-finals of their respective events at the ongoing World Wrestling Championships. In the semis though, both wrestlers lost their bouts and will now fight for bronze on Friday.

Pooja Dhanda lost her bronze medal match to Pei Xingru of China in the 59kg bronze medal bout 3-5. Pooja was aiming to become the first female Indian wrestler to win multiple World Championship medals. In 2018, Dhanda won a bronze medal in the women's freestyle 57-kg weight class at Budapest.

Earlier, Punia, currently ranked World No.1, entered the semi-finals in the 65-kg weight category after beating North Korean grappler Jong Son 8-1 in the quarter-finals to confirm his seat on the flight which will be heading to Tokyo next year.

Before that, he had defeated David Habat of Slovakia 3-0 in the pre-quarterfinals. Punia kicked off his campaign with a 9-2 win over Poland's Krzysztof Bienkowski. In the semi-final against local Daulet Niyazbekov, Punia controversially bowed out 9-9 via criteria point -- a four point move.

Punia was victim of multiple fouls as Niyazbekov was warned but to no avail as he trailed 2-9 following a four-point move by Niyazbekov which was reviewed by the Indian grappler.

Meanwhile, Kumar booked his tickets for the Tokyo Games after upsetting former World Champion Yuki Takahashi 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the 57-kg weight category.

Before that, Kumar overcame a stiff challenge from Armenia's Arsen Harutyunyan and emerged victorious by winning the bout 17-6 in the pre-quarterfinals. He had opened his campaign by thrashing Sunggwon Kim of Korea 11-0. In the semis, he went down 4-6 to Zavur Uguev of Russia.

In other results, Sakshi Malik was knocked out of medal contention as she lost 7-10 to Nigeria's Aminat Adeniyi in Women's 62-kg category. Adeniyi lost her pre-quarter final bout, thus running Malik out of repechange bout.

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