Sunday, July 5, 2015

Back injury derails talented wrestler Bajrang's World Cup preparations

This piece was published in Sportskeeda
India’s men’s wrestling team’s preparations for the upcoming World Wrestling Championships has suffered a setback due to a back injury to Bajrang Punia – a medal hopeful. The 2015 World Wrestling Championships, which will be held in Las Vegas, USA from September 7 to 15, is still two months away and Bajrang is racing against time to be fit after battling with a persistent back injury.
The 21-year-old grappler, who won silver in 61-kg in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth and 2014 Incheon Asian Games, is bandied about as a potential medal prospect not just for the 2015 World Wrestling Championships, but also for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Interestingly, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is holding trials for the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in the first week of July and Bajrang is certain to miss the trials.
“I have just started training a few days back and have been away from the mat since I suffered this back injury in a tournament in the USA in January. I have missed two tournaments during this period and now don’t want to miss the 2015 World Wrestling Championships. I hope to be fit by August and will then submit an application to the WFI requesting them to allow me to take part in trials. I’m optimistic about getting fully fit by August,” Bajrang says in an informal chat.
The 2013 World Wrestling Championship bronze medallist admitted it is never easy to be out of action because of injuries.
“You cannot control injuries. It will happen, but I’m sad that I missed two tournaments and was not able win medals for the country,” he revealed.
Bajrang, who is employed with Railways, believes the 2015 World Wrestling Championships is a tough exercise for the Indian wrestlers, since it has Olympic qualifying berths up for grabs.
“It will not be easy as all grapplers are tough to beat, especially those from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. The World Wrestling Championships will also have qualification berths for the 2016 Rio Olympics. I have to reach the semifinals in my 61-kg category to make the cut. Keeping fingers crossed,” he quipped.
One of the country’s most talented grappler, Bajrang, has won medals in all major international competitions since bursting onto the wrestling mat with a bronze medal effort in the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championship and he hasn’t looked back since then. The Indian wrestling contingent will need Bajrang for the World Wrestling Championships and one hopes he is fit as a fiddle by August and hits the mat in Las Vegas in September.
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