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Bajrang Punia's coach Shako Bentinidis reveals that the focus is only on 'improving the ranking' ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2020

  • Bajrang Punia's coach Bentinidis has said that they will be focusing on three upcoming tournaments in a bid to improve Punia's ranking.
Modified 03 Mar 2020, 16:07 IST

Bajrang Punia
Bajrang Punia

Checkout: The Tokyo Olympics 2020 Schedule

What's the story?

Bajrang Punia's coach Shako Bentinidis has said that they will be focusing on three upcoming tournaments in a bid to improve Punia's rankings ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2020

The background

Japan’s Takuto Otoguro defeated Bajrang Punia at the Asian Wrestling Championships that concluded in New Delhi recently. 

India has high hopes of a medal from the World Championships silver medalist. The 65kg freestyle wrestler received a little bit of criticism after a loss to the Japanese Otoguru. 

Although the Jhajjar-born grappler has already sealed an Olympic berth, he will now try to improve his ranking in order to gain a better seeding for the global event. 

The heart of the matter

Bajrang Punia is World No.2 in the 65kg category, and his coach Shako Bentinidis revealed in an interview with Wrestling TV that the focus is solely on improving the rankings.

“We are only looking to improve our rankings ahead of the Olympics.”

Currently, the coach is keeping three tournaments in his radar -- the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov, the Ranking Series in Poland in June, and the Canada Cup. The decision to participate in these will be taken depending upon the need for the situation. 

A long time fan favourite Indian wrestler, the 2018 Asian Games gold medalist was the favourite to clinch gold in the Asian Championships last month but was upset by Otoguro who defeated him 10-2 in the summit clash.


Coach Bentinidis also shared his thoughts about the loss.

"Playing in front of the home crowd can be stressful. But I feel there was unnecessary hype around him, which had put mental pressure on Bajrang to perform better. Bajrang is very strong and hardworking but his critics need to understand wrestlers cannot be at the top every time."

What's next?

The 65kg category at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 will be one of the toughest categories with stiff competition. Russian powerhouse Rashidov Gadzhimurad, the 2019 World Championships gold medalist and Daulet Niyazbekov, the 2019 World Wrestling Championships silver medalist will be the two wrestlers to watch out for apart from Bajrang. Al Haji Mohamad and Takuto Otoguro are also challenging competitors in the same category. 

Also Checkout:  The Tokyo Olympics 2020 medal tally

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Published 02 Mar 2020, 16:37 IST
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