Bajrang Punia’s chances of winning a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics 2020
25-year-old Bajrang Punia was unlucky to miss out on qualification during the last edition of the Olympics in Rio. But in the last four years the former world number one grappler has become one of the frontrunners to win a medal for the country in Tokyo, where the Tokyo Olympics schedule is set to commence on the 24th of July, 2020.
Punia was ranked No. 1 in the world, making him the first Indian to do so across any weight category. Unfortunately he was dethroned from the top spot after his disappointing World Championship campaign in Nur-Sultan in September last year. Punia won eight gold medals over his last nine tournaments and his fitness levels haven’t known any bounds. He has won medals in Asian Games (1 gold, 1 silver), Commonwealth Games (1 gold, 1 silver), Asian Championships (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze), World Championships (1 silver, 1 bronze).
Defeats from Takuto Otoguro and Yianni Diakomihalis at the 2018 World Championships and the Madison Square Garden last year, respectively did rip open some flaws in the Indian’s technique. But with his Georgian coach Emzarios Bentinidis, Bajrang has been working on putting everything back together – primarily, his leg defense and not throwing himself open to takedowns with his attacking stance. He has struggled to find willing sparring partners abroad in the past but with Bentinidis’ presence, that has been overcome.
Born in the Haryana district of northern India Punia started wrestling at the age of seven. At 25 years old and with plenty of international titles already to his name, Bajrang has the chance to challenge global titles for years to come. The Indian wrestling’s high hopes lie on the upcoming ace wrestler and with his maiden appearance in the Olympics, Punia’s dream now glowing on the horizon, he’s undoubtedly one of the strong contenders to add a medal to India’s Olympics Medal Tally.