Asian silver medallist wrestler Jitender Kumar is aware of the imposing challenges he may face whenever a trial is conducted for the men’s freestyle 74kg class.
Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, former World championship medallist Narsingh Yadav (who is coming out of a four-year doping ban) and former Asian bronze medallist Parveen Rana are some of the leading names in the particular category. They will be keen to compete in case the Wrestling Federation of India opts for a trial for the Olympic qualifying event in the post-COVID-19 period.
However, Jitender is not overawed by the big names. “I am aware of the challenge I may face. I am confident of getting past my opponents. These big names inspire me to give my best,” Jitender told Sportstar .
Jitender agreed that the postponement of the Asian Olympics qualifier due to the pandemic was a setback for him. “I was giving good performances. My training, schedule and rhythm were good. I was confident after winning the Asian silver and it would have been an advantage for me had the Olympics happened in time.”
In order to maintain his tempo, Jitender is staying and training with friend and three-time World championships medallist Bajrang Punia in the latter’s flat in Sonipat. “We have been staying together and training for a long time. I learn a lot from Bajrang’s work ethics and he helps me rectify my technical issues.”
Jitender said his performance improved after coming in contact with Georgian coach Shako Bentinidis (who also trains Bajrang). “The best thing about Shako is he improves your game without changing your style. My game improved after training with him.
“Shako keeps in touch and tells us what to do. Right now I am working on some technical issues, including those in attack and defence.”
The 26-year-old two-time Commonwealth Championship gold medal winner is banking on his self-belief in his quest for the Olympics glory. “I have not yet realised my potential and believe that I can win the Olympics gold medal,” said Jitender.
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