Fit-again Bajrang looking forward to pre-Olympic European sojourn


Struggling to get good sparring partners, three-time World championships medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia is keen to train abroad in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Bajrang has recovered from the knee injury he picked up during the Asian championships – where he forfeited the final bout due to the injury and settled for the 65kg silver medal – in Almaty, Kazakhstan, last month and has resumed training at the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS), Vijayanagara, where the weather is ‘similar’ to that in Japan.

“I started mat training a few days back. The injury has improved. Now it is alright and I am preparing for the (Ranking Series) tournament in Poland (June 8-13). I am facing a little problem in sparring due to COVID-19. I was trying to get sparring partners from abroad but they could not get visa. It took a lot of time,” Bajrang told Sportstar.

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“I train with 70kg and 74kg wrestlers. But the national camp is not functional now due to COVID-19. So I came to IIS with a partner. I went through the quarantine and trained with my coach on the first two days. Now I have started training with my partner. The whole (of last) year, during the lockdown, I did physical training. Since the Olympics is coming closer, it is important to train on the mat,” he added.

The Olympic-bound Bajrang wants to train abroad and, if possible, directly reach Tokyo. “Now the Federation has made a schedule of two months (for training) in Europe. The schedule looks good for me… after the event in Poland, we may get to train in Turkey and Hungary,” he said.

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“The current strain (of COVID-19) is spreading faster in India and the partner issue is there. I don’t want to come back (after the events). I may go to Russia or the USA where I can get good training partners. If I can go directly to the Olympics from there, then I will do that. Or else, I will come back to India and go to the Olympics,” added Bajrang.

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