Asian Games: Bajrang Punia returns to wage fresh battle | Asian Games 2023 News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India’s champion wrestler Bajrang Punia, fighting troublesome knees, would be looking for one last hurrah at the Asian Games with a successful defence of his title in the men’s freestyle 65kg class.
At 29 years, Bajrang might not come across as the fittest – his knees which underwent surgery were always threatening to derail his career. He was also away from practice for months and will be making his first appearance in competition after leading the prolonged protest against former Wrestling Federation of India chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
“We want to train for the Asian Games. We trained at Jantar Mantar as and when we got the chance. But getting justice for India’s daughters will be a bigger medal for me than the Asiad,” he had said.
It’s been only lately that Bajrang has started training again after travelling to Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan five weeks back to prepare for the Asiad. He had skipped the selection trials for the Worlds in Belgrade to concentrate on the continental showpiece.
Bajrang will be making his third appearance at the Asiad, having won gold in Jakarta and a silver in the 2014 edition in Incheon. For the Asiad, Bajrang, along with Vinesh Phogat, was offered exemption from appearing for the trials following his appeal to the sports administrators that he wasn’t in peak form after nearly a two-month long protest at Jantar Mantar.
His direct entry to compete in the Games hadn’t gone down well with his nearest competitor Vishal Kaliraman, who had topped the trials. Bajrang will be seen in action on October 6 and it will be a challenging task for him to defend his crown. With wrestling powerhouses like Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Japan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, North and South Korea at the Games, the training session in Kyrgyzstan may not be enough.

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