Today News Online Service
New Delhi, May 27
After his plans to bring sparring partners from abroad fell through, star Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has decided to travel to Russia to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.
Bajrang will travel to the Russian city of Makhachkala, where he will get good sparring partners in his weight division (65kg) and get to compete in the Ali Aliev tournament.
“I have come back from a training stint at the Inspire Institute of Sports (in Karnataka) only two days back. Now I am waiting for the visa to come through and the day I get the green light I will take the flight,” Bajrang told The Tribune today.
Bajrang’s previous plan was to host six wrestlers from Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Georgia to aid his training before the Games. However, travel restrictions and reservations from parent organisations of those travelling to India became a big obstacle.
“Everybody tried to help — SAI, JSW and TOPS officials. But they cannot do anything when it comes to visa formalities. Only one could get the all-clear. So I had to change the plans as we do not have much time left,” India’s only three-time World Championships medallist said.
Bajrang is one of India’s biggest medal hopes at the Tokyo Games, which begin on July 23.
In fact, there was a slight change in the latest plans. Bajrang was first pencilled to travel to Poland for the ranking series and then travel to Russia. “Now he will be travelling straight to Russia,” Wrestling Federation of India secretary Vinod Tomar said.
‘Seeding doesn’t matter’
Bajrang, who is in the top-five in the world rankings, has said that seeding will not matter in Tokyo. “I know there is a lot of talk as higher-ranked wrestlers will get better seeding and that will help in the draw,” Bajrang said.
“There are at least 12 or so good wrestlers in my weight category and any of us can beat the other. Even if I get a good draw and avoid two wrestlers, I would still need to beat others to have a chance. I do not think it will be of help. At the end of the day we have to win our bouts to proceed to the medal bouts,” he explained.
Not giving away early points
Bajrang Punia is also mindful of the fact that he cannot afford to concede too many points too early in his bouts, a scenario that has hurt his medal hauls in major tournaments. “I know and I am working hard on this aspect,” Bajrang said. “I did not give away too many leg points at the Asian Championships so there is some improvement on that front. Key for me is to not concede points early and we are working hard on this point as well,” he said.