Wrestling camp for Olympic weight category to start from September 1

The national camp which was slated to begin in the second week of August was postponed after top wrestlers refused to attend in fear of catching COVID-19.

Bajrang, one of India's brightest medal prospects in Tokyo thanked his coach Shako Bentinidis for joining him at IIS.   -  FILE PHOTO/ PTI

 

Top Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Pooja Dhanda confirmed that the national camp for Olympic weight category wrestlers will start from September 1. The men's camp will be held in Sonepat while the women will train in Lucknow.

The national camp which was slated to begin in the second week of August was postponed after top wrestlers refused to attend in fear of catching the coronavirus.

"It's a good thing that the camp will be starting and we are ready for it. The World Championships will be our first target and we will train accordingly," Pooja said during a webinar conducted by Indian Institute of Sports (IIS) on the occasion of its second anniversary.

The 2018 World Championship bronze medallist, who has fully recovered from her injuries, is confident of continuing in the 57kg category.

"The 57kg is the most competitive but I am confident of doing well. I was out for a while due to injuries and the rehabilitation took some time away. But now I am ready and my fitness is also good," she said.

Pooja Dhanda.   -  FILE PHOTO/AP

 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed to next year and Pooja has got no issues with the postponement.

"The World Championships are now rescheduled to December and my primary aim is to clear the trials and then qualify for the Olympics. In a way, I am happy that the Olympics are postponed as it gives me ample time to prepare," the world champion medallist said.

Pooja further said that the lack of competitions has made the wrestlers a bit rusty.

“One-and-a-half month before a competition, the mindset is fixed and the body also responds in a certain manner. We can see what our rivals are up to during competition but now it's different. So not having competition is definitely impacting our game,” she said.

Bajrang, on the other hand, opined that it will be challenging for those who didn't make the cut for the Olympics as the forced-stoppage will cause an impact in their preparations.

Only four wrestlers - Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Ravi Dahiya (57kg) and Vinesh Phogat (53kg) have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

"Having qualified, I have now a clear mindset - I have to win a medal at the Olympics and prepare myself in the best possible manner. But it will be challenging for those who haven't qualified," Bajrang who is training at the IIS said.

When asked how the lockdown had an impact on his training, Bajrang said: "Well we all have been locked but training wise I haven't missed much. Thankfully I have people around me who keep motivating me and have a positive influence. So far it has been good," he said.

Bajrang, one of India's brightest medal prospects in Tokyo further thanked his coach Shako Bentinidis for joining him at IIS.

“I want to thank Shako who has travelled back to India despite the rise in cases in India. He has prepared a strategy for me and has suggested a tweak in my technique. My rivals have seen my game and I need to prepare accordingly,” he said.