India’s wrestling sensation Bajrang Punia on Saturday became the first Indian to grab the top spot in the world rankings. The 24-year-old grappler from Haryana is now ranked one in the United World Wrestling rankings. The young Arjuna awardee achieved the feat with 96 points in the 65 weight category. With golds in both Commonwealth Games as well as Asian Games and a silver at the World Championship, Punia had a wonderful season with a total tally of 5 medals.
He is the lone male Indian to feature in the top 10 list of rankings. However, what is interesting to note is the fact that five female wrestlers from India are in the top-10 list in their respective categories. Pooja Dhanda, who became only the fourth Indian woman to win a World Championship medal, is now ranked sixth in the women’s 57kg with 52 points. She had taken a bronze. Ritu Phogat completes the top-10 in the women’s 50kg, with 33 points. Sarita Mor is ranked seventh in 59kg with 29 points while Navjot Kaur (32) and Kiran (37) are ninth in 68kg and 76kg category respectively, reports PTI.
In September, Punia sparked a debate when the sports ministry ignored him and chose cricketer Virat Kohli for Khel Ratna award which is India’s highest sporting honour. This was done even after Punia secured 80 points during selections. He, however, maintained that it wasn’t meant to belittle the achievements of other athletes but for a more ‘transparent process’.