The 25-year-old arrived at the Games in a confident mood after securing gold in the English Championships earlier this year and always looked likely to go far, defeating Sierra Leone’s Mohamed Bundu in the quarter-final on Friday morning.
And while he fell to a semi-final defeat against Pakistan’s Zaman Anwar, he put that disappointment behind him and bounced back superbly in his following match.
The Wolverhampton-born athlete faced Mauritius’ Kensley Anthony Marie and earned a victory by fall to take home his first Commonwealth medal.
He said: “I’m speechless and proud at the same time, for representing my home nation at these home games.”
Kooner was in devastating form in the bronze medal match and took just 36 seconds to defeat his opponent, with the home crowd left delighted by the manner of his victory. Being a West Midlands athlete and competing at the Games was clearly a big source of inspiration for Kooner as he finished third on the podium.
He said: “As soon as I qualified, I thought ‘I want a medal’, this is a home games, my family are here. You heard the crowd, it was crazy.”
He was joined on the podium by Canada’s Amarveer Dhesi, who took home gold after defeating Anwar in an exciting final.
Kooner only first burst onto the scene in 2018 at the English Championships, where he was defeated by fellow British athlete Ben Pollin, to earn a silver medal.
But he has quickly established himself as one of the top wrestling talents in the UK and is hoping that his journey can inspire others to do the same.
He said: “I hope I have inspired a lot of people, especially the younger generation and those that I train with. I hope I have inspired them to train for the next Commonwealth Games as well.”
His progression was clear to see earlier this year when he met Pollin in the English Championships final once again, with Kooner coming out on top on that occasion.
That sealed his spot in the Commonwealth Games and the 25-year-old can certainly be proud of his first appearance and will be hoping that he can represent England again at the 2026 Games in Victoria, Australia.
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