Journey of Bajrang Punia From Jhajjar to Tokyo Olympics

5 minute read

On 7 August 2021, Bajrang Punia, a freestyle wrestler from the Jhajjar district of Haryana, successfully achieved a major accomplishment in his wrestling career by winning a bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics. Born on 26th February of 1994, Punia is an inspiring wrestler from the land of athletes in India. He became the only Indian wrestler to have won three medals at the World Wrestling Championships. In this blog, we will explore Bajrang Punia’s inspiring journey from Jhajjar to the Tokyo Olympics. 

Early Life and Education

YouTube: Olympics

Bajrang was not born into a rich and well-facilitated family. To become a successful freestyle wrestler, he went through enumerative hardships. Right from the unavailability of basic sports facilities his career started is full of many ups and downs. Due to his hard work and constant determination to win gold for his country, he has accomplished so much at a young age.

Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t afford the equipment to practice his traditional sport. So, instead, he chose a sport that doesn’t require any equipment to play like wrestling and kabaddi. After being encouraged and supported by his father, he decided to take up wrestling and practised it. His father is also a wrestler, which helped Bajrang in getting proper guidance.

His father got him into a mud wrestling school, which Punia used to attend by skipping his school. Initially, he did not get any professional guidance but after getting access to a regional sports centre, his family shifted to Sonepat to assist him throughout his wrestling journey.

Currently, Punia is actively working as Gazetted Officer sports in Indian Railways. The most fascinating thing about Punia is that as soon as he stepped into the international competitions, he started winning medals for the country. Since 2013, he has been representing India on international stages and has been successful in bringing many medals. In 2013, he played the first match of his career in the Asian Wrestling Championship. He became so popular that people started seeing him next to Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.

Apart from the international stage, Bajrang is also a part of the Pro Wrestling League in India. In 2015, he was brought in by one of the teams Bangalore Yoddha and in 2019; he became part of the other team, Punjab Royals.

Also Read: Meet the Historic India Hockey Men’s Team

Start of a Wrestling Career 

Bajrang Punia has won various medals throughout his wrestling career as a freestyle wrestler and is still working hard to win some more. He won his first-ever medal (bronze) in 2013 during the Asian Wrestling Championships in Delhi. In the same year, he won another bronze medal while competing in World Wrestling Championships.

It was the year 2014 when he won his first silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. In his final match, he wrestled against David Tremblay from Canada and lost to win the silver medal. Later in the same year, he again won the silver medal after losing against Masoud Esmaeilpoor jouybari of Iran at the Asian Games. He won his 3rd international silver medal after losing the match to Masoud Esmaeilpoor jouybari of Iran at Asian Wrestling Championship in 2014.

Source: The Week

Despite doing great in the years 2013 and 2014, he couldn’t win any medals in the year 2015. However, the next year brought him glory as he succeeded in winning gold in an international match. At the Singapore Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in 2016, he won his first-ever international gold medal. Similarly, in 2017, in Asian Wrestling Championships and under 23 World Wrestling Championships, he again won a gold and a silver medal respectively.

In 2018, Bajrang brought two gold medals home from the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. The silver medal that he won at the 2018 World Wrestling Championships was special. After receiving a silver medal at that championship, he was ranked World No.1 in the category of 65 kg.

Tokyo Olympics: President, PM Modi laud Bajrang Punia after bronze win
Source: Pinterest

Moreover, it was the Tokyo Olympics 2020, where he established his true victory by winning his first Olympic medal. He defeated Daulet Niyazbekov and won a bronze medal.

Check out: Lifting India’s Hope in Tokyo Olympics: Saikhom Mirabai Chanu

Awards and Achievements

Source: InsideSports

Bajrang Punia has won four significant awards from the nation. With his marvellous wrestling journey, he has been recognized with utmost honours.   

  • Arjuna Award, in 2015
  • Padma Shri Award, in 2019
  • Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, in 2019
  • FICCI India Sports Award, in 2020

He won the following medals on international platforms:

  • Gold Medal in 2017 Asian Championships            
  • Silver Medal in 2018 Wrestling Championship     
  • Gold Medal in 2018 Asian Games             
  • Gold Medal in 2018 Commonwealth Games       
  • Bronze Medal in 2019 Wrestling Championship 
  • Gold Medal in 2019 Asian Championships
  • Bronze Medal in 2020 Tokyo Olympics   
  • Gold Medal in 2022 Commonwealth Games

Must Read: Meet CA Bhavani Devi, the First Indian Fencer to Qualify for Olympics

Punia’s Bronze Journey at Tokyo Olympics 2020

YouTube: Olympics

It was Bajrang’s first Olympics, and he did not let India down. He is an Indian freestyle wrestler who showed outstanding performance and won a bronze medal in the 65kg category. Though he made India proud, he wants to work hard and compete for the gold again in the next Olympics. He said that he did not win the medal he wanted, but is happy to make the country proud. At the age of 27, he has accomplished so much glory that many wrestlers fail to achieve. 

I will return either badly hurt or with medal: Bajrang Punia told wife  Sangeeta- The New Indian Express
Source: The New Indian Express

In his final match, he competed against the 8-time national champion player, Daulet Niyazbekov, whom he lost to in the semi-final of World Championships, 2019.

Also Read: Meet Maana Patel, the First Female Indian Swimmer to Qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Hat-trick win at Commonwealth Games 2022

Bajrang Punia has won Gold Medal in 65kg wrestling, his win has completed the hat-trick of CWG medals for India in 2022 as Sakshi and Deepak won their first Commonwealth Games gold medals.

Despite having a knee injury, he managed to set up his triumph on the wrestling mat. Given his glorious history, he succeeded in winning a medal that India was expecting from him. Undoubtedly, he is one of the best wrestlers in India. To know more about the inspiring athletes and great personalities follow Leverage Edu!

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