When the last time India went to the Asian Games in 2014, Bajrang Punia returned with a silver. Four years later, the grappler is confident that he won’t have to settle for anything less than a gold.
His numbers leading upto the Asiad have been nothing short of phenomenal. He has finished on podium on seven occasions. He ended up winning the gold on five occasions. No surprises, the Haryanvi is brimming with confidence.
“We have a very good side this time. We have 2 Olympic Medallists (Sakshi Malik and Sushil Kumar) in the team. We even have Vinesh Phogat. So we will try and give our best and perform better than we did in the previous Asian Games,” said the 24-year-old.
Indian wrestlers have traditionally struggled at the Asian Games. The grapplers accounted for one gold, one silver and three bronze medals in 2014. At the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, Indian wrestlers accounted for 12 medals, five of them being gold. The difference is stark.
“Well there are many differences between the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Not all countries that come to the Asian Games, participate in the Commonwealth games, and some Asian teams are amongst the best in the world,” argued Bajrang.
For the upcoming Asian Games, Bajrang is being mentored by Yogeshwar Dutt, who won a gold at the Asiad in 2014. Interestingly, it was India’s first medal in wrestling in 28 years.
“He did really well and India and he is a big inspiration for all of us. He told me that I have to replicate what he did in 2014, and I am fully prepared to reach that goal.”
The 24-year-old also stressed that not only physical but mental aspect of the athlete too plays a huge role in his/her success.
“The group of people I’m around are very positive, they keep motivating me to perform well and improve my previous performances. So they create an environment where I can flourish as a wrestler,” Bajrang signed off.