CHENNAI: The Asian Championships in New Delhi in February was the last international event for Indian wrestlers before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the postponement or cancellation of all meets. This break is sowing seeds of doubt in their minds.
Ace wrestlers Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Pooja Dhanda (57kg) feel lack of international exposure has had an impact on their game. “I did not miss training even for a day. Despite that, I cannot measure my progress because there is no competition,” said Bajrang during a webinar organised by Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) on the occasion of its second anniversary. He along with Pooja have been training at IIS for more than a month.
For Pooja, the break has been even longer, as her last international appearance was in the World Championships in Kazakhstan last September. Since then, she lost her preferred category to a youngster after losing in trials for the Asian event. “The mindset is fixed one-and-a-half months before a competition and the body responds in a certain manner. When there is competition, we can measure our rivals. Not having competitions is impacting the game,” the 26-year-old said.
The 2018 World Championship bronze medallist is glad that the Olympics got postponed for a year. “I had injuries last year. The 57kg category is the most competitive in women’s wrestling, but all I need to do is take care of fitness. I have the World Championships (rescheduled to December) in mind. I am confident of qualifying for the Olympics.”
Bajrang opined the period is more challenging for those who have not qualified for the Games yet. “You need some motivation to keep going, especially given the uncertain situation we all are facing.” After their stint at IIS, the duo will join the national camp scheduled to commence on September 1.
Vikas headed for US
Boxer Vikas Krishan plans to head back to the US pro circuit next month. “My first target of qualifying for the Olympics is fulfilled. I am four months into training for professional bouts. I will come back in January-February.” IIS CEO Rushdee Warley and Manisha Malhotra, head of Sports Excellence & Scouting at JSW Sports, also spoke during the webinar.