Deepak Punia becomes junior world wrestling champion, first Indian in 18 years

Deepak Punia is now the reigning junior world champion in the 86-kg category (File Photo)

Deepak Punia etched his name into the history of Indian sports on Wednesday by being the first Indian in 18 years to win a title at the Junior World Championships in Estonia. He won the final of the 86-kg junior freestyle category on Wednesday, beating Alik Shebzukhov of Russia.

The final ended 2-2 on scores, but Deepak was awarded the bout as he had registered the last point-scoring move.

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Punia had won the silver medal after losing in the final at this event in 2018. He had missed out narrowly on a bronze medal at this event in 2017. In 2016, he had won thje gold medal at the Cadet World Championships.

It is after 18 years that India has a junior world champion in wrestling in Deepak Punia. Ramesh Gulia and Palwinder Singh Cheema had won international gold medals at the junior circuit in 69kg and 130kg categories respectively.

Before prevailing over Shebzukhov, Punia, who also won a gold at 2016 Cadet World Championship, comfortably defeated Milan Korcsog of Hungary 10-1 in his opening bout.

He then defeated Hunter Lee of Canada 5-1.

In the semi-final Georgia’s Miriani Maisuradze 3-2, Punia trailed 1-2 but with just over a minute left he scored two points by pushing his opponent twice to emerge a 3-2 winner.

Punia will also represent India at the upcoming World Championship in Kazakhatan, having won the trials.