New Delhi, May 29 | Pandemic has disrupted training, says India’s star wrestler Bajrang Punia, who will represent India in the mens 65kg freestyle event in the Tokyo Olympic Games, starting July 23.
“In the last 18 months I could only compete in two-three tournaments because of the pandemic. Competitions are a true reflection of hard work, and without participating in quality tournaments hard work is of no use. The more tournaments we participate the better,” Punia said during an online media interaction on Saturday.
With 55 days to go for the Olympics, the 27-year-old world bronze medallist in men’s 65kg said he is planning to go to Russia for training to prepare for the Olympics.
“I would be training in the Russian city of Makhachkala, which has good facilities for wrestlers. There are good sparring partners. I had also trained in Russia before last month’s Asian Wrestling Championships held in Almaty. Good sparring partners play an important role in polishing skills,” he explained.
During the Asian Championship in Almaty last month Punia injured his elbow in his semi-final match and withdrew from the final against Japanese Takuto Otoguru.
“I have recovered from the injury. I’ve started only my physical training as there are no sparring partners in India. My main sparring partner Jitender is on the injured list. I had also planned to invite four-five wrestlers from different countries for training but due to the pandemic the plan was cancelled,” he said.
Punia said he is focusing on overall development to tackle his rivals in Japan. “I’ve improved my leg defence. But leg defence is just one aspect of training. There are other areas like power and endurance that couldn’t be ignored to excel in Japan,” he added.