Bajrang Punia is confident that India’s wrestling contingent will return from the Olympics with at least two to three medals, provided the Tokyo Games take place. Punia, one of India’s biggest medal hopes, will himself be eyeing a podium finish in what could be the country’s best-ever medal tally in wrestling as the likes of Ravi Dahiya, Deepak Punia and Vinesh Phogat are coming off impressive performance in the last year or two. Also Read - Vinesh Phogat Reacts on Tokyo Olympics 2020 Postponement, Says 'Every Athlete's Worst Fear Has Come True'
“In my opinion, our wrestlers are pretty much in a good space – both men and women. They have been performing really well at the world stage in the last 3-4 years. We will bring 2-3 medals from the Olympics this time. Vinesh (Phogat), Ravi (Dahiya) and Deepak (Punia) are top contenders,” Punia said. Also Read - IOC President Reacts on Tokyo Olympics Postponement, Says '2021 Tokyo Games Will be Celebration of Humanity'
That, however, is subject to whether the Tokyo Games go on. The rate at which the outbreak of the Coronavirus is affecting the world, chances of the Olympics taking place this year appears bleak. Many athletes and world body have called for the postponement of the Summer Games with World Athletics Body chairman Sebastian Coe expecting a final verdict soon. As for Bajrang, his stance on the matter is pretty clear. Also Read - Indian Paralympic Committee Welcomes Postponement of Tokyo Olympics 2020 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
“The decision about whether the Tokyo Olympics should be called off or postponed lies entirely with the IOC, and not with a sportsperson. An athlete’s job is to perform, and perform to the best of his ability,” Punia said. “Whatever is going to happen in the future, if at all the Olympics takes place or it gets cancelled or delayed, will be for everyone and not just for one sportsperson.”
After missing the 2016 Olympics, Bajrang Punia has not set a foot wrong for in his road to the Tokyo Games. He’s won gold at the Asian Wrestling Championship and has gone on to strike gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Last year, Punia secured an Olympics berth during the World Wrestling Championships where he finished with a silver medal and has kept himself on the right track by winning another gold medal in the Rome Ranking Series.
It will surprise you to know that the reason Punia did not decide to compete at Rio was to give his idol Yogeshwar Dutt a chance to have a final swing. This time, with Dutt as his idol, Punia is aiming high to walk out of Olympics with a medal.
However, as the country comes under an unofficial lockdown to fight COVID-19 and its containment, for the time being, Bajrang is doing all that is under his control – taking care of fitness and eating well.
“In these trying times, everyone needs to keep their hygiene standards high. I’m doing so. Plus, I’m making sure whatever I eat and consume is all homemade and not from outside. Also, my top goal is to remain injury free,” he added.