World Wrestling Championships: Allegations of cheating as Bajrang Punia loses in semifinal

NEW DELHI : Bajrang Punia, World No.1 65kg freestyle wrestler, lost his semifinal bout against home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov in a controversial manner after locking down an Olympics berth on Day 6 of the World Championships on Thursday. Bajrang’s frustrated coach Shako Benitidis was visibly furious at some of the decisions as the semifinal bout ended 9-9. Since Niyazbekov had secured a bigger throw of four points in the bout, he was declared the winner.

In a fiercely fought affair, the referee gave ample time to a tiring Niyazbekov to catch his breath and he wasot given caution at least thrice. Instead Niyazbekov was awarded four points when it was Bajrang who had effected a throw at the edge of the circle.

“I challenged it and they should have given at least two points to Bajrang for that hold,” said coach Benitidis.

The Indian, who won silver in the last edition, will now fight for the bronze medal on Friday. “It was clear that the mat chairman favoured the home wrestler,” said a coach who did not wish to be named.

Experts and neutral observers also were of the view that Bajrang got shortchanged.

Ben Askren, Ultimate Fighting Championship star and former Olympic wrestler, tweeted: “Daton (Fix) got screwed! Bajrang got screwed!”

Pooja misses out

Meanwhile, India’s campaign in the women’s competition folded following Pooja Dhanda’s defeat in the bronze medal bout and first round exits of Sakshi Malik and Divya Kakran. Pooja lost the 59kg bronze medal play-off 3-5 to 2018 Asian champion Xingru Pei of China.