If I want to win a medal in Olympics, have to keep everything else aside: Bajrang Punia
It doesn't get bigger than the Olympics for an athlete and ace Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia is leaving no stone unturned as he looks to hit top gear in the home stretch of his preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Earlier this month, the World No 1 stopped using his social media handles and asked fans to keep showing him support as he gets battled ready for the Games. One of India's biggest Olympic medal prospects, Bajrang on Thursday revealed regular use of social media was hampering his preparation. The men's 65kg freestyle wrestler went on to add that nothing means more to him than preparing for the mega event.
"Nothing like that (if any particular incident prompted him to deactivate social media). But I felt that social media was disturbing my preparation. And Olympic is the biggest event so I thought it would be better if like put all my focus on my preparation. If I want to win a medal in Olympics, I have to keep everything aside for the coming months," Bajrang said.
"I can use social media after the Olympics also. So, instead of wasting my time, I decided to focus on preparations. In our free time we can work on our weakness too," he added.
Bajrang's love-affair with wrestling helped him regain the number one spot in the rankings after he clinched a second successive gold medal at the Matteo Pallicone Ranking Series last week.
The 27-year-old, who was playing his first international competition since the COVID-19 pandemic, made full use of the tournament to further prepare for the much-awaited Tokyo Olympics.
In January, Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh had said that Bajrang, Vinesh Phogat, Deepak Punia, and Ravi Kumar can bag medals in the Olympics.
Asked if it would add to the expectations, Bajrang -- who has won accolades in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games as well as World Championship -- said while the WFI President is right in expecting medals from them, the road to the Olympics will not be a bed of roses.
"I am trying my best, but it is easier said than done. My focus is only on doing hard work and for that, I am focusing on my training. The first time it has happened that four wrestlers have qualified. So, WFI president is right in expecting the medals from us as in recent past wrestlers have performed brilliantly," the Indian wrestler said.
"And we are working hard to win a medal for the country, but it isn't that easy. It's not like that you go into the Olympics and the medal is assured, you have to work hard for it," he quipped.
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju has said Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes will be given priority for the coronavirus vaccine followed by other athletes. And Bajrang, who is the recipient of the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, has already received his first dose of vaccine and will take the next jab after 28 days.
"I have taken the first dose of vaccine and would take the next dose after 28 days. I won't tell anyone to take the vaccine or not take it. Athletes must consult their doctors and coaches before getting the first dose," said Bajrang.
Diet plays a major role in an athletes' build-up in the training and preparation and Bajrang, who hails from Khudan village in Haryana has tied up with Optimum Nutrition for or all his dietary supplement requirements.
"Optimum Nutrition is the world's best nutrition partner. I am using it for many years now and I found it very beneficial so I signed up with them. Good nutrition is very important for us as many supplements in the market are adulterated," said Bajrang.
Bajrang had earned a quota for the Tokyo Games in September 2019 after winning a bronze medal at the World Championships. The prestigious quadrennial event is set to take place from July 23 to August 8 this year. The Games were scheduled to take place last year but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.