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Bajrang Punia begins mat training


Struggling to get quality sparring partners, three-time World championships medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia is keen to train abroad in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Bajrang has recovered from the knee injury he picked up during the Asian championships — where he forfeited the final bout due to the problem and finished with silver in the 65kg category — in Almaty, Kazakhstan, last month and has resumed his training at the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS), Vijayanagara, where the weather is ‘similar’ to that in Japan.

Knee feels better

“I started mat training a few days back. The knee is much better and I am preparing for the (ranking series) tournament in Poland (June 8-13). I am facing a minor issue when it comes to sparring.

“I was trying to get sparring partners from abroad but they could not get visas due to the COVID-19 situation in India,” Bajrang told The Hindu.

“I train with the 70kg and 74kg wrestlers. The National camp is not functional at the moment due to COVID-19 and I came to the IIS with a partner.

“I went through quarantine and trained with my coach for the first two days. Now I have started training with my partner. The whole of last year, during the lockdown, I did physical training. Since the Olympics is drawing closer, it is important to train on the mat,” said Bajrang.

To train in Europe

“The federation has made a schedule for two months of training in Europe. It looks good for me. After the event in Poland, we may get to train in Turkey and Hungary.

“The current strain (of COVID-19) is spreading faster in India and the partner issue is there. I don’t want to come back (after the events).

“I may go to Russia or United States where I can get good training partners. If I can go directly to the Olympics from there, I will do that. Or else, I will come back to India and go to Tokyo,” said Bajrang.

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