Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia is looking forward to regaining his form as he heads to the United States for 35-day training camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games and the World Championship.
At a media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India on Saturday, Bajrang said he would spar with some of the best wrestlers in the Michigan University. “The players who train there come in World’s top 10. They train there but represent different countries. I went before Tokyo Olympics also and I’m returning there with more focus and determination to spar with the best. I want to get back to being the Bajrang you saw in 2018-2019,” he said.
Bajrang suffered an injury post the Olympics but said he is at his best fitness and carries no niggles. “I have been training at the SAI National Centre of Excellence in Sonipat. My fitness levels is back owing to support I recieved from SAI and the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). I now want to perform. I want to give my best whoever is the opponent. The more tournaments I play, the more I get a chance to improve myself,” he said.
Shedding light on the US trip ahead of the big tournaments coming up, Bajrang said Indians train overseas not because there is no facility in India. “The infrastructure in India is world-class and has evolved over the years. We get everything from physios to trainers to multiple equipment. I am going to the US to spar with world-class partners there. Also, before any big tournament, no athlete wants distractions. Here, I keep on getting invitations for birthdays, marriages and so on,” he said.
Looking ahead, Bajrang said he wants to win gold for India in the next Olympic Games in Paris. “I want to better myself in training. Winning and losing is a part of life. My schedule hasn’t changed after Tokyo Olympics and my techniques also remain the same. I am focused and have worked on my fitness post Tokyo. I want to bring back my own self!” he said.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ TOPS would fund Bajrang’s travel, boarding, and daily costs towards the 35-day training camp in Michigan, from June 25 to July 30 and would also cover the expenses for his personal coach and physiotherapist.