India’s Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medalist in men’s freestyle Bajrang Punia will be seen in action for the first time in 2022, when he steps on the mat for the Asian Wrestling Championships trials on March 24.
While the men’s national selection trials in freestyle and Greco-Roman events will be held at Sonepat’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex, women’s freestyle selection trials will take place on March 25 at SAI’s wrestling training center in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) will send a strong team to the Asian Wrestling Championships scheduled to be held in Mongolia from April 19.
Bajrang Punia, 27, has been nursing a knee injury since June 2021. Since then, he has been taking all preventative measures to avoid injury in the new season. The star freestyle wrestler from Haryana even skipped last month’s Yasar Dogu World Ranking Tournament in Turkey due to a minor leg injury.
After his ward skipped the Istanbul World Ranking Series in February, Bajrang Punia’s coach Sujeet Maan had said:
“Next month’s Asian Championships is more important. We skipped the Istanbul competition on the advice of medical experts.”
According to Vinod Tomar, assistant secretary of the WFI, India’s elite wrestlers are expected to compete in the one-day national selection trials.
To prepare for the Asian meet, Punia in February went to Iran for a month-long advanced training session with his personal coach Maan.
His coach Tomar added:
“Punia will be back from Iran this week. He will compete in the national selection trials on March 24 here at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex."
Bajrang Punia not the only big name in action
Ravi Dahiya, silver medalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in men’s 57kg freestyle, and Deepak Punia, who finished fourth one men’s 86kg freestyle, are other high-profile wrestlers who will be seen in action next week in Delhi.
Tomar concluded by adding:
“All the prominent wrestlers, including Dahiya, are attending the national camp in Sonepat. Winner of each of the 10 weight categories in both freestyle and Greco-Roman will represent India at the Asian meet.”