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

Challenged with the lack of proper sparring partners in India and a knee injury, a rejuvenated Bajrang Punia is looking forward to the European tour planned by the Wrestling Federation of India.

Bajrang Punia

Bajrang Punia has recovered from the knee injury he picked up during the Asian championships last month and has resumed training at the IIS in Vijayanagara, where the weather is 'similar' to that in Japan.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

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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