Olympic-bound Bajrang Punia's training to get major lift with coach's arrival

Wrestler Bajrang Punia is eagerly waiting to welcome his personal coach Shako Bentinidis to chart his course of action leading up to the Olympics.

File photo of Bajrang Punia after winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.   -  PTI Photo

Three-time World championships medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia is eagerly waiting to welcome his personal coach Shako Bentinidis to chart his course of action leading up to the Olympics.

Georgian Bentinidis, who got himself into a special flight, returned to India on Thursday night following a pandemic-induced break. “Shako will undergo seven days of quarantine in Delhi and another seven days of quarantine in Vijayanagara before joining me at the Inspire Institute for Sport (IIS) campus for training,” Bajrang told Sportstar.

Bentinidis has been overseeing the training of Bajrang and Jitender Kumar (74kg) over video calls.

Jitender credits Bajrang Punia, coach Shako for improvement  

Bajrang, who won an Olympic quota place in men’s freestyle 65kg class last year, said Bentinidis' presence would help him. “Shako and I will sit down and discuss how to go about the training. We will start by addressing smaller areas. However, it is difficult to make a concrete schedule (up to the Olympics) as we don’t know about the upcoming tournaments yet.”

About his decision to move to IIS, Bajrang said: “It is a secure and safe campus, having the best of facilities and scientific support. The coach here is an Olympic champion (Cuban Yandro Quintana), he has got different ideas and I can learn a few things from him. There is a good trainer here. I can put myself through various tests and work on different areas of my game.”

Lockdown training

Bajrang fondly recalled the time he spent at home during the lockdown. “I trained with Jitender at home. We trained on a smaller mat and with limited gym equipment.

Bajrang is currently training at the Inspire Institute for Sport (IIS) campus.   -  AP Photo


“I stayed positive and thought whatever happened was for good. I could never spend enough time at home due to my tight training and competition schedule. This was an opportunity to spend quality time with my parents. I love cooking and I prepared desi food items, such as roti, churma, kheer, for my parents. I also got time to read two books (Laukik Vyavahar and Pauranik Kathayen).”

Looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics next year, Bajrang said, “I will use the time to work on my weaknesses. There is a lot of hope (from me), it’s a dream of 135 crore people (that I win a medal). I never take pressure because of expectations. Rather, it motivates me to give my best.”

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