What's the story
Haryana-born Indian wrestler Deepak Punia is hopeful of winning a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The wrestling hero had a fantastic 2019, in which he ended the dry spell of 18 years by winning a gold medal in the junior world wrestling championships. He also bagged a silver at the senior world wrestling campionships in the 86 kg category. To add another feather to his cap, Deepak was awarded with the junior freestyle wrestler of the year title by the United World Wrestling (UWW) in December
In case you didn’t know
Deepak Punia defeated Colombia’s Carlos Izquierdo 7-6 at the world wrestling championship’s semifinal last year, which gave him a place in the Tokyo Olympics. He was however, ruled out of the finals due to a knee injury that he sustained and which got him the second position in the podium. Deepak had said,
“Not being able to compete was really upsetting. I fought against tough competitors to reach the final. Then, I had to pull out. This is wrestling, it is a sport. Anything could have happened on the day. I could have won, I could have lost.”
Deepak feels he missed out a chance of competing against the reigning Iranian champion Hassan Yazdani that would have definitely helped him gain experience. He said,
“I would have learned something. He is also an Olympic champion, so it would have been a good experience to compete. But then, there was the risk of aggravating my injury.”
Heart of the matter
Punia is training hard and is determined to bring a medal for his country. Indians surely have high expectations from him to bring home an Olympic medal. He was quoted as saying “I have to win Olympic medal at any cost" he further added, “The only thing that matters to me right now is the Tokyo Olympics... 100 percent. I have given my all to make it through. I will do whatever is required to win a medal in Tokyo.” he told Hindustan Times in an exclusive telephonic interview.
“I will continue to participate in a few more tournaments in the coming months, which I believe will help me on the road to Tokyo. I have only one mission this year - to become an Olympic medalist.”
After the injury sustained, the wrestler took a break from boxing to recover completely. Despite being knocked down last month in the Rome Ranking Series, the boxer is determined to clinch an Olympic medal. Another benefit Punia has is that he is being coached by the former 2008 Olympic silver medalist from Belarus, Murad Gaidarov. Deepak unia is busy training himself at Chhatrasal Akhada in New Delhi and is confident to bring back laurels to his country.