The wrestler will compete in the 65kg weight category in Tokyo.

Bajrang Punia will be one of India’s brightest medal prospects in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The 27-year-old will take part in his first-ever Olympics campaign in Tokyo. He is one of eight Indian wrestlers who will travel to the Japanese capital, hoping to bring back glory to their nation.

The wrestler has made rapid strides in recent years. He has won an Asian Games gold medal in 2018 as well as two Asian Championships title. Earlier this year, he had claimed the silver medal in the Asian Wrestling Championships at Almaty, Kazakhstan. Bajrang Punia, who has received the prestigious Padma Shri and Arjuna Awards, is gearing up for the biggest tournament in his career.

In a media interaction arranged by the Sports Authority of India, Bajrang Punia spoke to Khel Now about his sporting inspirations. He also throws some light on his preparations and hopes for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

His inspirations

Bajrang Punia stated, “I didn’t know about the Olympic Games until 2005 as until then I was still in my village. Technology was not so good back then, and more so in my village. I later heard about Rathore Ji winning the silver medal in Olympics. I first watched it in 2008, when Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal in shooting for India. In a country of 1.3 billion people, he is the first and remains the only Indian to win an individual Gold medal in Olympics. He continues to inspire me.”

“Unfortunately, I have lost touch with my wrestling idol, Yogeshwar Dutt, over the years. He has become busy in politics while I am busy in my training,” remarked the wrestler about the London 2012 bronze medallist.

Tokyo preparations

The freestyle wrestler also revealed his preparations and how tough it has been to get ready for such a mega event under the current circumstances.

Bajrang Punia remarked, “The situation in India is very tough. I always have to be cautious as there is a very high risk of getting infected now. I should also be injury-free as there is no time to recover from anything of that sort. The biggest problem has been to get sparring partners here, due to the ongoing restrictions.”

“I have decided to travel to Makhachkala in Russia to prepare for the Olympics. Getting quality practice before the Olympics will be crucial. There are at least 12 good wrestlers in my weight category who are capable of beating anybody on the given day. Seedings do not matter. What matters is that what will happen on the day of the bout. Only he will win with whom there is God on the given day. I believe this will be the best ever Olympics for India”

India’s chances of a medal or two in wrestling are high, and Bajrang Punia will be one of the most eye-catching grapplers in Tokyo. The boy from Haryana’s Jhajjar district will be hoping that his maiden campaign bears fruit and he returns home as the toast of an entire nation.

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