The wrestler in Tokyo, Olympic-bound Bajrang Punia, has begun his final phase of preparations for the Summer Games, sparring and sweating with top Russian predators. Bajrang Punia was accompanied by his Georgian coach Shako Bentindis. The duo is training in Vladikavkaz with the world champion in 2019 in the weight up to 70 kilograms (non-Olympic weight category), David Baev.
“I started training in Russia with David Baev, the 2019 world champion in 70 kilograms. There are good sparring partners in Vladikavkaz,” the three-time world medal winner Bajrang Punia wrote on his Twitter.
Bajrang Punia, who will represent India at the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 65kg category, reached Vladikavkaz last month. He will train in Russia almost five weeks before the flight to Tokyo.
In the absence of his regular sparring partner Jitender Kumar, the gold medal of Asia and the Commonwealth in 2018, he originally planned to invite five wrestlers from different countries to train with him in India. However, the plan could not be realized due to travel restrictions after the Covid-19 pandemic.
He skipped the recent Polish Open Ranking Series in Warsaw to focus on training and sparring with top Russian wrestlers. His coach Shako says that training and working on shortcomings are now more important than competitions.
“With better sparring partners in Russia, we are sure we will improve even more. It is time to focus on training with the best wrestlers during the competition,” Shako told Sportskeed before leaving for Russia.
Bajrang Punia agreed with his coach. Highlighting why he chose Russia for his training center, native Haryana said they have good training facilities and better sparring partners to help him polish his skills ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
“Good sparring partners play an important role in polishing skills. Vladikavkaz has good facilities for wrestlers. I trained in Russia even before the Asian Wrestling Championships,” Bajrang Punia said during an online interaction with the media last month.
Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia join Bajrang Punia in Russia
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is planning a training camp for Ravi Dahia and Deepak Puni in Russia.
Two wrestlers qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in the categories up to 57 kg and 86 kg, respectively. They will join Bajrang Punia in Vladikavkaz.