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Wrestling | Bajrang aims to peak during the Olympics

Flexing their muscles! Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, two of India’s best hopes for the Tokyo Games, at a promotional event on Monday.

Flexing their muscles! Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, two of India’s best hopes for the Tokyo Games, at a promotional event on Monday.  

Sakshi hopes the coronavirus crisis won’t ‘crush her dreams’

The spread of the coronavirus beyond the confines of the epicentre China has wreaked havoc with the schedules of a number of Indian Olympic hopefuls.

In wrestling, the Olympic qualifying tournament scheduled from March 27 to 29 in Kyrgyzstan now stands cancelled. Sakshi Malik, a bronze medallist from Rio 2016, has just one more opportunity (in May in Bulgaria) to make the grade and is hoping that the outbreak doesn’t “crush her dreams”.

Even as it doesn’t affect one of India’s biggest medal prospects at Tokyo 2020, Bajrang Punia, qualify as he did quite early, the 26-year-old said it was important to be sensitive to the crisis at a humanitarian level.

“A lot of people have died and that’s horrible,” Bajrang said at an event held to announce an association between JSW Group’s Inspire Institute of Sport and Herbalife Nutrition. “It’s not only about athletes, it’s about every person. As athletes in this country we don’t have to worry about it. But you can’t just ignore it.”

“China, Italy, Iran and many places in Europe…people can’t come from there or go there. What if there is an emergency and they can’t travel?”

Thus far the Tokyo 2020 authorities have been steadfast in their belief that the Olympics will go ahead as scheduled.

It is with this certainty that Bajrang plans to train, though he is unsure of the events he will take part in to fine-tune his preparations.

“My target is to peak during the Olympics,” Bajrang said.

“Every wrestler, including me, comes to the Olympics with the dream of winning a medal. I should not make any mistakes. My category (65 kg) is a tough one. There are around 12-13 wrestlers who can beat anyone. ”

At the recent Asian Wrestling Championship at home, Bajrang lost to Japan’s Takuto Otoguro, an opponent who he had failed to defeat in the 2018 World Championship title clash too.

“I couldn’t give my 100%. There was pressure and a few days before that I had typhoid. But I am working on my weaknesses. My leg defence has improved. Also, I used to concede points early and would recover later.”

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 7:38:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/wrestling-bajrang-aims-to-peak-during-the-olympics/article30965823.ece

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