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WFI refutes wrestler Bajrang Punia's claim of non-availability of physiotherapist

Wrestling - Olympics: Bajrang Punia after his match
Wrestling - Olympics: Bajrang Punia after his match
Aishwarya Kasibhatla

The Wrestling Federation of India refuted Bajrang Punia's claim regarding the non-availability of a physiotherapist for training on Friday (March 26).

Just a day after Bajrang Punia claimed to be carrying out his rehabilitation process himself after struggling to find a dedicated physiotherapist, WFI contravened the grapplers' claims.

WFI clarified that Bajrang denied availing the services of two qualified physios recently at the national camp at the SAI Sonepat centre.

Earlier, in connection with physio-related concerns, Bajrang sent many proposals to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) through the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

The proposals consisted of sanctioning the bronze medal-winning grappler, a personal coach and a physiotherapist for training in India as well as abroad. SAI has approved a budget of around ₹20 lakh for Bajrang from December 2020 to August 2021.

In a release, WFI said:

"Post Olympics, Mr. Bajrang Punia vide email dated 22nd November 2021 requested for the assistance of personal physiotherapist - Dr. Anand Kumar who is currently employed by the Indian Railways. The WFI immediately sent a proposal to SAI TOPS for approval which was later approved by the Competent Authority and a letter was issued by SAI & WFI to Secretary, Railway Sports Promotion Board for the release and attachment of Mr. Anand Kumar with Bajrang."

WFI further added:

“Further, as per the request from Bajrang, the physiotherapist was sanctioned boarding and lodging at the SAI Sonipat center at cost to the government. Since Dr Anand was not relieved by his department, therefore, WFI arranged another physiotherapist for Bajrang. The WFI selected two physiotherapists and they visited SAI centre on trial basis but Bajrang denied taking their services. The WFI, with the approval of SAI, has also provided two physiotherapists at STC, Sonepat where the national camp is going on."

Wrestler Bajrang Punia will be in action at Ulaanbaatar Asian Championships

Bajrang Punia, who will be in action for the first time at a major event ever since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, said that his left-knee injury has improved “90 percent”.

The 28-year-old will be competing at the Ulaanbaatar Asian Championships from April 19-24 in Mongolia. Bajrang defeated two-time national champion Rohit 4-2 in the selection trials for the Asian meet to secure his berth in the men’s freestyle 65kg category.

Bajrang Punia beats Rohit 4-2 to win selection trials at 65kg for Asian Wrestling Championships. Lot closer than the Olympic bronze medalist would have hoped. He was trailing early before scoring off a four point throw. https://t.co/T8qB8WAkEF

Following his trial match, Bajrang said:

“This is the first time I have participated in a competition since Tokyo. I was recovering from knee injuries. I was doing my own rehabilitation with no doctor or physio available with me. I had their services till the Olympics. After that, I requested the TOPS division but no one was made available to me. My application for a full-time physio is pending with them."

He further added:

"I had also placed a request for the same with JSW but they also sounded helpless. JSW informed me that they can’t attach personnel without the federation’s (WFI) permission. Later, the WFI provided a physio, but unfortunately, he passed away recently after working with me for just one week. He was all of 26 years."

He also spoke about his struggles with frequent injuries and cited not having a physio as the reason for his problems.

“Since 2013, I have kept a full-time physio with me and that’s the reason why I have remained injury-free all these years. After Tokyo, I don’t have this luxury and I am getting injured more frequently. Had a physio been with me, I wouldn’t have missed the Rome ranking series and Yasar Dogu invitation in Istanbul. My recovery from knee injuries would have been much faster. I request the TOPS and authorities to provide me with a physio at the earliest."

Also read: Ravi Kumar Dahiya wins gold in Istanbul, Bajrang Punia to practice in Iran


Edited by Diptanil Roy

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