Punia, Dhanda take gold, MALIK silver at the Dan Kolov-Nikol Petrov Ranking Series in Ruse
3rd March 2019: Bajrang Punia outclassed Jordan Oliver to win the 65kg gold at the Dan Kolov-Nikol Petrov Ranking Series in Ruse, Bulgaria on Saturday night. Before Punia’s feat, Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi clinched a silver medal in the 65kg category while Pooja Dhanda won a gold in the 59kg.
After being 0-3 down, Punia stepped up the gas and won 12 straight points to clinch the gold against his American opponent. “I dedicate this medal to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. He has been an inspiration to me and some day I would like to meet and shake his hands,” said Punia after the win.
Facing Henna Johansson of Sweden, Malik was beaten to the Gold medal 3-8. Besides the silver medal, Malik will also take back some confidence after beating reigning World and European Champion Petra Olli of Finland in the semifinals.
“The win over World Champion Olli has given me a lot of confidence and will keep me in good stead for the upcoming Asian Championships,” said Malik. What was notable of her feat in Bulgaria was that she competed in a category higher than her usual 62kg. “From here we have trials in India for the Asian Championships and then another event in USA so to lose weight thrice in one month or so would affect my performance as there would be lot of diet control and that affects training too,” explained Sakshi.
With an eye on Tokyo Olympics, Malik said performing at tournaments leading to World Championships in 2019 would help her secure a berth at 2020 Games. “I want to seal my berth for Tokyo at the World Championships in September 2019, and performing at such tournaments will help me a lot,” said Malik.
Pooja Dhanda won a gold in the event as she went undefeated in the 59kg category in a round-robin format. On her way to gold, she beat compatriot Sarita Mor, Kornelija Zaicevaute of Lithuania while Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova didn’t turn up for the bout.