Bajrang Punia not worried by lack of competitive bouts ahead of Worlds 

Happy to be back on the mat, Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia believes performance levels can only be gauged after a few bouts.

By Naveen Peter ·

Earlier this month the United World Wrestling (UWW), the international governing body for the sport, confirmed its decision to go ahead with this year’s world championships.

Scheduled to be held in Belgrade, Serbia in December, the World Wrestling Championships will be the most noteworthy event of the year, giving wrestlers around the world a competition to look forward to.

However, with little to no competitive bouts building up to the worlds, grapplers could be in for some trouble as they prepare for the Belgrade event. But Indian wrestling ace Bajrang Punia, who competes in the 65kg category, isn’t worried.

“So what, we have to start from somewhere and since everyone is sailing in the same boat, it is OK. Olympics is the target,” Bajrang told PTI.

Though there are invitational meets in Poland (November 4-8) and Russia (November 7-8), it’s unlikely that an Indian wrestling contingent will be seen in action given the COVID-19 situation in the country.

The national wrestling camp at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Sonipat, Haryana began on September 1. Photo: SAI

“At these events, any number of wrestlers can come but at the world's, only one wrestler in each category will be there. So I don’t think it’s prudent to travel to either Russia or Poland,” Bajrang said.

Indian wrestlers have been busy training at the national camps in Sonipat, Haryana (for men) and Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (for women) for over a month.

While Bajrang Punia acknowledged that getting back on the mat was a welcome relief, he admitted that the performance levels can be assessed only after a few competitive bouts.

“It is very good that we are back at training, it isn’t that we were out of rhythm because we were training at our homes during the lockdown but that cannot be compared to what one can do at the camp and when we train on mats,” said Punia.

“We were in good rhythm before the lockdown was announced. Even now our training is going well but we will only know our level and where we stand when we compete,” concluded the 26-year-old.

Bajrang won India an Olympic quota with his bronze medal show at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships.