Winning a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games here was not the real goal of legendary Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia – given his talent and the standard of play at the CWG, he could do it in his sleep. Bajrang wanted to win in Birmingham on his terms, with a forceful and aggressive style of play.
The 28-year-old Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist from Jhajjar, Haryana won his second Commonwealth Games gold with an aggressive performance in the men’s 65kg category, defeating Canada’s Lachlan McNeil in the final.
CWG 2022 – Full Coverage | Deep | India Focus | out of the field | In the photo Medal tally
In an interview, India’s star wrestler said that he aims to become the first Indian wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal in Paris in 2024.
How happy are you to have won your second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games?
I am very happy and very proud that I made some changes after the 2020 Olympics. It’s great to see some of the changes I’ve implemented bearing fruit. It is great to win gold for India.
Winning bouts is one thing, winning in commanding fashion and imposing your style is another matter entirely. How important was this factor to you in your outing at the Commonwealth Games?
Yes, winning a medal is very important but it is also important to win it the way you want. It is also very important to get the opponent to play to your style and submit to you. If I can do that, I consider it a good achievement. If I can master his style, that’s even better. I’m happy that I was able to win the way I wanted, so I’m happy with my overall performance. I just hope to continue in the same vein.
How content are you to win the fight you want – to dominate and impose?
I am very satisfied that I was able to play the way I wanted and win the bout today. I was aggressive but at the same time my defense was strong. My performance has fluctuated since the Tokyo Olympics because of the injuries I sustained during the games. I managed to change things and train better and I am happy that I managed to carry it out in a competition.
After that, for the first time, I could play the way I wanted. So I am very happy.
You had said a few years ago that you wanted to bring back the Bajrang Punia of 2017 – dominance, dominant style, aggressive play. How successful do you think you have been in that endeavor?
I think I’m 70 to 80 percent there. Now I try to recover the remaining 10-20 percent. I want to continue working hard on this aspect of the game and hopefully make it through the upcoming World Championships.
What are your plans for the World Championships and beyond?
Apart from the World Championships, I want to do well in the Asian Games, National Championships and then focus on qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics. That is my goal for next year. I want to qualify early for the Olympics and then use the one-year period to prepare to the best of my ability for the Olympics.
Sushil Kumar is the only wrestler to have won two medals at the Olympics.
I will try my best to add a gold medal to the silver and bronze medals won by my fellow wrestlers for India. I want to use every bit of my strength to win the gold medal in Paris.
I am working very hard to make sure that the dream that was left unfulfilled in the last Olympics (he got a bronze medal) due to my injury will be fulfilled in Paris. Every athlete wants to win a gold medal at the Olympics and my dream is to fulfill that ambition and all that fell short in Tokyo. I am doing my best in my training regime to reach my goal.
QHow would you describe your journey so far?
I’ve come a long way since I was young and it’s not just my journey alone, I have a whole support system behind me with the support staff, the physios who have helped me stand here and win gold. around my neck
It’s important that the people who work with me behind the scenes, who aren’t in front of the camera, know that I appreciate their efforts because that’s what got me this far and it’s a big milestone. I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude.
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