In yet another first for Indian wrestling, Bajrang Punia on Saturday reached a milestone by achieving the number one rank in the world freestyle in the 65kg category.
In the latest rankings released by the United World Wrestling, the 24-year-old Bajrang was placed atop the ranking table with 96 points. He won five medals this season, including Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold and a silver at the World Championship.
According to the UWW list, Bajrang made a comfortable 30-point lead over second-placed Alejandro Enrique Valdes Tobier of Cuba (66). Bajrang has beaten the Cuban freestyle wrestler in the UWW World Championship semi-finals in Budapest, Hungary, late last month.
Russia’s Akhmed Chakaev (62) is in third place and the new world champion Takuto Otoguro (56) is at number four, followed by Turkey’s Selahattin Kilicsallayan (50).
Commonwealth Games 2014 gold medalist and veteran Yogeshwar Dutt took to Twitter to congratulate the youngster’s achievement.
“Son @BajrangPunia you are very much congrats on becoming world No. 1. Be very proud to see you at this altitude. Keep playing in the same way, increase your country's value honor and keep Tri elevated, Bravo. Jai Indo, Jai Bharat,” he tweeted.
The UWW rankings feature eight other Indian wrestlers in the top 20 list of their respective weight categories. Bajrang is the lone male Indian to figure in the top 10.
Freestyle wrestlers Sandeep Tomar (14th) in 61kg category and Deepak Punia, (13th) in 86 kg, are the only two other male wrestlers in the Top 20 table.