Ruse, Bulgaria, March 4: India's star wrestler Bajrang Punia has won the gold medal at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov tournament in Ruse, Bulgaria and dedicated the victory to Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Punia, a World Championship silver medallist, overpowered Jordan Oliver of USA 12-3 in the 65kg freestyle final to begin the season on a resounding note in the Bulgarian city. The Indian also secured the maximum ranking points from the tournament.
"I want to dedicate my gold to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. He has inspired me. I want to meet him one day and also shake hands with him," Punia tweeted after his victory.
The Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan returned to our soil from captivity in Pakistan on Friday night after a suspenseful wait lasting hours, The pilot, who ejected from his MiG-21 Bison aircraft after it went down in firing on February 27 is undergoing medical tests
This was Punia's 10th medal in as many international tournaments since failing to finish at the podium in the 2017 World Championships in Paris.
In the men's freestyle events, Sandeep Tomar had to be content with a silver in 61kg.
Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat lost her women's 53kg final to China's Qianyu Pang 2-9 to settle for silver on her debut in the United World Wrestling ranking series, which is also her first tournament since moving from the 50kg category.