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Deepak Punia wins silver at Worlds after missing final with injuries

Deepak Punia is the reigning junior world champion. PTI Photo

Nur-Sultan (KAZAKHSTAN) - Deepak Punia ended his campaign at the World Championships with a silver as he had to miss the final because of injuries from previous rounds. He was slated to face Iran's Olympic Champion Hassan Yazdani in the final.

"My leg is swollen up and it is hurting. The eye is swollen too, but it happens in wrestling. I picked up both injuries during the first round. I am not fighting in the final (because of leg injury)," Deepak told Sportstar from Nur-Sultan on Sunday.

On Saturday, reigning junior world champion Deepak turned in the best performance by an Indian wrestler at this year's World Championships by making it to the final of the 86kg category event. He also became the fourth Indian to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Deepak beat Switzerland's Stefan Reichmuth 8-2 in the semi-final. "I had genuinely hoped for a medal and Olympic quota. So, it is a double delight for me," Deepak told PTI.

This result means that two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar remains the only Indian to have won a World Championships title (2010).

Deepak had locked the Olympics quota by beating Colombia's Carlos Arturo Mendez 7-6 in the quarters.

Also on Saturday, Rahul Aware lost his semifinal bout 6-10 to Beka Lomtadze of Georgia in the 61kg non-Olympic category. He will now fight for a bronze medal on Sunday.

Among the other Indians in action, Jitender (79kg) lost his quarterfinal while Mausam Khatri lost in the first round (97kg) to reigning Olympic champion Kyle Frederick Snyder.

Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics with bronze medals.