Bajrang Punia is one of India's greatest and most accomplished wrestlers with three World Championship medals and also gold medals at the Asian and Commonwealth Games.
Going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he was one of India's biggest gold medal hopes, till a knee injury two months before the games dealt a big setback to his campaign. While in the lead-up to the games, Bajrang did not draw focus to his injury, the strapping on his knee while he competed in Tokyo made it evident that the second seed was not at full fitness.
"I am happy I won a medal but what I had gone to the Olympics to do, I couldn't do (win a gold). I will now try my best to achieve my goal at the Paris Olympics. The injury was quite a setback for me because I was performing well but I am happy that I could win a medal despite my injury. If I wasn't injured and had won a bronze, I would not have been satisfied with my performance," Bajrang told The Quint during an interaction to announce his new collaboration with the social media platform ShareChat and Moj.
Despite already competing with an injured knee, Bajrang elected to risk further serious injury by refusing to wear any strapping during his bronze medal bout as, according to him, it restricted his movement. And while millions of Indians watched him in action on the last day of Indian participation at the Tokyo Olympics, there were two Indians who focused more on his knee than the scoreline.
"When I came back, my parents were upset with me for fighting with an injury. They were proud of me for still winning a medal and told me the bronze was as good as gold for them," said Bajrang.
Indian wrestlers will next be seen on the mat at the World Championships in Norway, starting 2 October and while Bajrang was recommended two months rest after the Tokyo Olympics, the 2019 Worlds bronze medallist says he plans to compete in the event.
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