"I take utmost pride with each opportunity that I get to represent my nation", says Bajrang Punia in the build-up to Tokyo Olympics 2020 (Exclusive)
At the World Wrestling Championships, coach Shako Beniditis kicked the coach's block in anger as Bajrang Punia's bout against Daulet Niyazbekov came to a controversial conclusion with the scoreline 9-9 in an encounter which was termed as nerve-wracking. The scoreline showed a tie but since Niyazbekov was given a bigger throw of four points in the bout, he was declared the winner.
Despite the semi-final loss, Bajrang Punia qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The story, though, started when the wrestler was a seven-year-old. Bajrang was born in a family where wrestling was a common sport, his father Balwaan Punia was a wrestler himself but he couldn't receive any success due to financial constraints. Balwaan Punia took various steps in order to save money and to ensure that his son's diet was complete.
The sacrifices which were made by the family paid off when Bajrang Punia lifted the tri-color after winning a gold medal at the Rome Ranking Series recently albeit his hunger to bring glory for the nation has only begun yet. The 25-year-old will compete in the 65 KG category and is one of the favourites to win an Olympic medal for the country.
Sportskeeda caught up with Bajrang Punia for an exclusive interview where he talked about the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Q. How have you been preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
The preparations are going great. Now, only a few days are remaining so I'm in back to back training camps with my team and I'm going in accordance with the tournament planning.
Q. Have you made any changes to your diet?
Yes, we've to maintain our weight according to the weight category we compete in. I've started a diet in accordance with that and I strictly follow the diet suggested by my team.
Q. You recently won a Gold in the Rome Ranking Series, how does that help your confidence?
Rome Ranking Series was this year's first tournament, a gold medal after the previous silver medal works as a psychological boost. It also provides with an opportunity to work on our weaknesses.
Q. How much does the Pro Wrestling League help in knowing the other wrestlers?
Bajrang: Wrestling is wrestling. Be it of any type. It's always of some advantage or the other but I agree that it has helped in increasing the popularity of wrestling. Wrestling is a power sport which includes both, energy and climax. Despite that, it isn't getting the popularity it deserves. Pro Wrestling works for this to some extent.
Q. You faced criticism for your weak leg-defence, how have you worked to improve that?
I don't try to hide my weaknesses. I'm working on it. Coach Shako is making me work hard on this. The improvements will keep coming. This is a process. I'm particularly focusing on it and improvements will come.
Q. The whole country is backing you to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, how do you handle the pressure?
I take utmost pride with each opportunity that I get to represent my nation. I'm getting a lot of love and blessings from the people of India and I want to thank all of them through your medium. I request people to keep showering all the love. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
Published 01 Feb 2020, 08:00 IST