Wrestler Bajrang Punia gave India its first gold medal at the 18th edition of the Asian Games with an 11-8 victory over Japan’s Takatani Daichi in the men’s freestyle 65 kg final in Jakarta on Sunday.
Bajrang, who clinched his maiden Asian Games gold, started off with a convincing 6-0 lead before Daichi made it 4-6 in the first period. Both wrestlers endured a tough battle in the second period but in the end Bajrang held his nerves to emerge victorious.
Bajrang had won silver in the 61 kg category four years ago at the Incheon Asian Games.
The 24-year-old Indian had won three consecutive international gold medals – CWG (Gold Coast), Tbilisi Grand Prix (Georgia) and Yasar Dogu International (Istanbul) – ahead of the Asian Games.
Earlier Apurvi Chandela and Ravi Kumar have clinched the first medal of the Asian Games 2018, for India, in the 10 metres Air Rifle Mixed Team Final event.
Chandela and Kumar had been eliminated in the penultimate stage which promises a bronze medal for India.
The duo had a total score of 429.9, while China bagged both the gold medal, with a total score of 494.1 which is also a Games record and silver, scoring 492.5.
India has high hopes on their shooters, wrestlers and boxers to deliver gold medals at the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia to better the 57-medal mark they achieved in Incheon four years ago.
Though India struggled at the Olympics, but have performed reasonably well in the quadrennial continental event, only twice finishing outside the top eight since hosting the first Asiad in 1951.
The country has won at least 10 golds in each of the last four Games and the August 18-September. Two multi-sports competition will be a timely indicator ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Spearheading India’s golden pursuit will be the shooters, who topped the medal tally in this year’s Mexico World Cup, finishing ahead of United States and China and be headlined by a trio of talented teenagers.