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Can't do much if referees support home wrestler: Bajrang Punia
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HIGHLIGHTS
 
Bajrang just cannot forget what happened in the 65kg semifinal bout at the World Championships
The controversial and surprising loss to Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekov in the semifinals still rankles Bajrang
However, he also realises that there is a lot of work to be done on his technique

 

NEW DELHI: The controversial and surprising loss to Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekov in the semifinals of the recently concluded Wrestling World Championships still rankles star wrestler Bajrang Punia. He just cannot forget what happened in the 65kg semifinal bout last Thursday.
 
However, he also realises that there is a lot of work to be done on his technique. So, what all will Bajrang work on in the lead-up to the Olympics? “I need to work on all areas. I need to attack and get points in the first period itself. It is a fact that there is a lot of gap in terms of points that requires to be covered during the second period. I am aware that I need to be in control from the word go and not always be chasing,” Bajrang said.
 
“Then I need to work on my leg defence. I did improve on my leg defence at the World Championships, but I've to work on it further so that I don't give any chance to my opponents to get hold of my leg. Whether it is attack or counter attack, I need to keep improving,” he promised.
 
The 25-year-old feels he was robbed of a gold medal due to “biased refereeing” in favour of the Kazakh wrestler. “I was trying my best, but what can you do if the referees are hell-bent on favouring the home wrestler. You don't know what to do and how to stop biased refereeing,” Punia told TOI on the sidelines of a felicitation programme organized for the Indian wrestlers, who won medals at the Worlds.
 
“I knew I could've won gold there. It is very demoralising when you lose due to bias or someone wins by cheating. I didn't lose the gold because of my mistakes,” Bajrang added.
 
Punia was down 2-9 in the semifinal that he lost to Niyazbekov. He turned the bout on its head by making it 9-9. It remained the final score but the Kazakh was declared the winner having made the highest-scoring move, a fourpointer.
 
During the bout, the Kazakh wrestler was often warned for poking at Bajrang, holding onto his singlet, and scratching at the Indian wrestler. But, Niyazbekov wasn't penalized in terms of points. Bajrang was also frustrated when the referees gave Niyazbekov ample time to catch his breath in between points.

 

The bone of contention, though, was a 4-pointer that was awarded to Niyazbekov at the start of the second period. "Anyone who knows even a bit about wrestling will tell you that the refereeing was biased. About the 4-pointer that was awarded to Niyazbekov – well I was the one who made the action and the rule states that the wrestler who makes the action if he falls first then both wrestlers are given 2 points each. I made the action, but the Kazakh wrestler got 4 points. The correct decision would've been to give two points each. The rules were neglected," Bajrang said.
 
"You will be surprised to know that when I went to the stadium the next day to watch the bouts of other wrestlers, many spectators – especially Kazakh people – told me that I was at the receiving end of biased refereeing," he added.
 
Bajrang stressed that the bout against Niyazbekov and what transpired will be difficult to forget.
 
"I know I have to get over this to do well in future tournaments but it is difficult. I had put a lot of effort for the World Championships; so I don't think I can forget missing out on the gold. Whenever something similar will happen, I will remember this incident," Bajrang said.
 
Following Bajrang's defeat, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had written to wrestling world body – United World Wrestling (UWW) — to review the bout. "I have been at the receiving end of such discrimination in all the three World Championships. Last year also it happened in the final.
 
"This is the third time it has happened with me," Punia lamented.

 
 


 
 


 
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