According to a report published by The Tribune, Bajrang Punia, the No. 1 wrestler in the world in the 65kg category, has parted ways with his longtime coach Shako Bentinidis. Bentinidis was not a famous figure among the wrestling community in India as he had a fractious relationship with the WFI.
Bajrang is one of the country's best bets to win a medal at next year's Tokyo Olympics and with just nine months remaining, the 25-year-old wrestler and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) have to quickly appoint a replacement.
According to the report published in The Tribune, Cuba's Yandro Miguel Quintana, winner of the 60kg gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is the favourite to replace Bentinidis. However, the final decision on a replacement has not been taken yet as Bajrang is also interested in getting the services of Soslan Ramonov of Russia, who won the gold medal in 65kg at the Rio Olympics.
Bajrang has neither confirmed nor denied his split with coach Bentinidis and asserted his faith on the WFI to make the correct decision.
"The picture will be clear in the next few days. It is inappropriate to speak anything at this stage. I have full faith in the Wrestling Federation. We will take the best decision in the interest of the country,” Bajrang was quoted saying by the Wrestling TV on Monday.
It has been reported that Bentinidis was not a famous figure among the wrestling community in India as he had a fractious relationship with the WFI. On numerous occasions, Bentinidis had embarrassed both the WFI and Punia. Other coaches in the federation have complained about Bentinidis' temperament and rude behaviour to the board.
WFI was also unhappy with Bentinidis' wrong call during Punia's semi-final bout against Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekovat at the recent World Championships in Nur-Sultan which ultimately led to Bajrang losing the match and settling for a bronze medal. In the match, Bentinidis had challenged the judge's decision to give Niyazbekov four points after a move from Bajrang. But the decision stayed and Bajrang had to concede a point. The tie ended at 9-9 but the Kazakh was declared a winner on tie-breaker rules.
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