Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia win gold in Rome event

Vinesh Phogat has now won two gold medals in two weeks. AP Photo/Anvar Ilyasov

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat grabbed the 53kg gold medal along with the World No. 1 rank at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome. On Sunday, Bajrang Punia also won gold in the men's 65kg event.

It was the second gold medal for Vinesh in as many weeks with a dominant win as the 26-year-old World bronze medallist blanked Canada's Diana Mary Helen Weicker 4-0 in the title clash on Saturday. Vinesh scored all her points in the first period and held on to her lead in the second to ensure a top-of-the-podium finish.

Vinesh had won a gold medal in Kiev last week and this performance will add to her belief that her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are on the right track. The Indian had entered the event as World No. 3 but is back to the top spot after jumping 14 points. The Canadian was ranked as low as 40 before the tournament but is now just behind Vinesh at No. 2.

Vinesh did not concede a single point in Rome, winning two of her three bouts by pinning her rivals while getting injury walkouts in the other two in the eight-woman field. Sarita Mor added to India's medal tally by winning silver in the 57kg on Saturday.

For Bajrang, first up was Selim Kozan, a former cadet world champion from Turkey. The Indian easily crushed him 7-0. Kozan made several attacks, especially from the right, but the Indian defended well. Bajrang scored off the takedown and gut-wrench moves.

He faced stiff competition from America's Joseph Christopher Mc Kenna but prevailed 6-3 in the semifinal.

Bajrang seemed to have improved upon his leg defence but the American got hold of his right leg thrice. Bajrang ensured that Mc Kenna was not able to take advantage of the grip, though.

In the fast-paced bout, Bajrang took a 4-2 lead, scoring points with takedowns. The American narrowed the gap to 3-4 late in the second period with a push out but Bajrang sealed the issue with a two-point throw.

In the final, Bajrang faced Mongolia's Tulga Tumur Ochir, who had prevented an all-Indian final by defeating Rohit Kumar 4-0 in the other 65kg semifinal. Bajrang trailed 0-2 before making 2-2 with 14 seconds to go. He would hold on to keep the criteria lead and take the win.

In the 74kg quarterfinal, Narsingh Pancham Yadav began with a comfortable win by technical superiority against Italian L Finizio but lost to 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World Champion Jordan Ernest Burroughs in the semifinal. Narsingh would then lose the bronze medal bout 5-0 to Kazhakstan's Daniyar Kaisanov.