Indian wrestling fans are very hopeful about Bajrang Punia’s chances of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics later this year and to ensure that Punia lives up to the country’s expectations, coach Emzarios Bentinidis is working hard with him to improve his mental strength and focus.
Punia, who is a three-time World Championships medallist, will start this year with the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series in March.
According to Bentinidis, Punia needs to focus on the process rather than the results as he has been out of competitive action since the Asian Wrestling Championships.
The Indian wrestler skipped the Individual World Cup last month but he returned to the mat at an eight-man invitational event. There he beat two-time world championships medallist James Green to win the Flowrestling title in Austin, Texas.
However, he lost to America’s Olympic hopeful Zain Retherford in another one-off fight after that. He could take part in another bout on January 22 before he heads home in February.
“I am working on increasing Bajrang’s focus on the mat. I ensure he does not lose his concentration when he fights,” Bentinidis said while speaking to Wrestling.TV.
“But when he does, I stop him immediately, fix the problem and make him work all over again from zero. Until he fixes it, we continue the same drill repeatedly,” he added.
Punia is known as the ‘Tank’ in wrestling for his never-ending stamina and we have seen him winning matches from adverse situations on many occasions.
Even though this style of play has worked for Punia till now, Bentinidis is busy developing a Plan B to keep their options open.
“He has greatly improved the technical aspects, now it is necessary to add functionality to it,” Bentinidis said.
“We are adding new techniques. We have been working on this for a long time and have begun to work well for defence as well,” added the Georgian coach.
Punia has been training with Bentinidis at Cliff Keen Wrestling Club in Michigan, the USA, since December 4. He was scheduled to return to India this month but he got his training extended with the Sports Ministry’s approval a couple of weeks back.