Ranked No.2 in the world, Bajrang Punia assured of seeding at Olympics


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Fast-rising Ravi Dahiya also seems set for a top-four billing at the mega-event

India's ace wrestler in 65kg category, Bajrang Punia. AP Photo

New Delhi: Star Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia is assured of a top-four seeding in the 65kg category at next year's Tokyo Olympics even if he skips the final ranking series tournament, going by the latest world standings.

The fast-rising Ravi Dahiya also seems set for a top-four billing at the mega-event, which will be held from July 23 to August 8 next year.

According to wrestling's world governing body UWW's fresh rankings Bajrang is at number two in the 65kg category. Dahiya is fourth in the very competitive 57kg category.

Russian Olympic champion Gadhzimurad Rashidov leads the 65kg rankings. Four Points separate Rashidov (60), Punia (59) and Kazakshtan's Daulet Niyazbekov (56) for the top seeding.

But the Russian and Indian wrestlers have such commanding leads over the field that they can sit out of the final ranking series event and still earn a top-four seeding at the Olympic Games.

Punia began the year ranked number three with 25 points after his world bronze medal. Since then he overtook world finalist Niyazbekov for the number two ranking.

The 57kg is led by reigning world champion and number one from Russia Zaur Uguev (60 points). World runner-up Suleyman Atli is firmly in the number two with 58 points. He is followed by Stevan Micic (48) and Dahiya (45).

Dahiya needs a 12-point finish at the final Ranking Series event to secure one of the top-four seeds. Nurislam Sanayev is ranked fifth in this weight and trails Dahiya by six points.

World Championship silver-medallist Deepak Punia is ranked second in 65kg behind Iranian great Hassan Yazdani, who underwent knee surgery earlier this year and had no choice but to skip the Matteo Pellicone and Asian Championships.