Bajrang banks on tried, trusted formula for Asian Wrestling Championships

By   - 14/02/2020

Bajrang Punia is India’s biggest hope for a gold at the New Delhi 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships.

Fresh from a three-week training stint in Azerbaijan, Bajrang returned home on Friday for the Asian Championships, which start on Tuesday next. He seemed all geared up to compete against the likes of Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhastan and Japan’s Takuto Otuguro in the 65kg category.

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Bajrang, 25, also has a score to settle with Niyazbekov to whom he had controversially lost in the Nur-Sultan World Championships last year. Gunning for an Olympic gold, Bajrang is well aware home important is it to settle the score with the Kazakh wrestler. He has been gearing up for the big out under different conditions against different opponents. In line with the strategy, Punia with coach Shako Bentidis had earlier invited foreign wrestlers to India for training. However, that did not work for him.

“We did invite foreign training partners to India but the difference is that they can’t acclimatise well to our environment and we start dominating them easily. Yeh kisi bhi pehalwan ke sath hota hai (it can happen with any wrestler). That’s why it’s more beneficial to train abroad,” said Bajrang.

“Also, by training at home at a stretch you start feeling a bit saturated. That’s the reason to fly down to Azerbaijan to train”.

Bajrang has moved up to the second position in the UWW rankings after winning gold the Rome Rankings Series last month. The Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist had defeated Jordan Oliver (4-3) in the 65kg finals in Rome. He now sits behind Russia’s Gadzhimurad Rashidov.

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The Indian grappler during his training in the Central Asian nation has made certain modifications to his techniques for converting his weakness into a strength. However, Bajrang instead of learning new techniques still relies on his natural game.

“Modification toh chalta rehta hai (is an ongoing process). How I can use my strengths and weaknesses to my benefit is what the whole training module is about. I won’t be able to share more technical details on that,” he has told national daily Times of India.

“Ek major competition se pehle koi naya daav seekh ke usko hukum ke ikke ki tarah istemaal karna sirf Bollywood mein ho sakta hai (To use a new move in a major competition like an ace of spade happens only in Bollywood movies),” he added.

Bajrang along with Vinesh Phogat, Deepak Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after getting a medal at the 2019 World Championships.

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