Asian Games gold medalist Bajrang Punia is confident of Indian wrestlers performing well and winning medals at the Tokyo Olympics next year. The grappler believes India’s performance at the World Championship shows they are in good form.
“I think we will win three to four medals from wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics,” Punia said on table tennis player Mudit Dani’s online chat show In The Sportlight on Saturday.
“The World Championship is a tougher tournament than the Olympics but we performed well there. So I think Indian wrestlers are in top form which makes them strong contenders for a medal haul in Tokyo,” added Punia.
The Olympic Games, which were initially scheduled to take place in 2020, have been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with Punia (bronze, 65kg), Deepak Punia (silver, 86kg), Vinesh Phogat (bronze, 53kg) and Ravi Kumar Dahiya (bronze, 57kg) also won medals at the 2019 World Wrestling Championship in Kazakhstan and secured an Olympic berth in the process.
During his chat with Dani, Punia said he would have lived a normal village life if he had not pursued wrestling. He also rated his first World Championship medal as the most memorable accolade of his career so far. The 26-year-old had an impressive outing at the 2013 World Championship where he won bronze at the age of 19.
Talking about the competition in his current weight category – 65kg – Punia said: “I feel 65kg is the toughest category in the world. There is no wrestler who has successively defended world championship titles or Olympic gold medals. There is always a new champion in every edition. There are strong wrestlers in this category who can beat anyone on their day.”
The grappler further praised government and sports federations for organising events such as Khelo India. “The way we have been organising events at the grassroot level such, a lot of youngsters are getting much-needed support from it which was not the case earlier. And if they keep getting this kind of support, not only in wrestling, India will win medals in every sport at the Olympics,” said Punia.