Bajrang Punia gets permission to skip World Championships trials, prefers overseas training over Olympic qualifier event

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After getting the required fitness certifications from the two wrestlers, the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) of the Sports Ministry approved Bajrang Punia and Deepak Punia's request to skip the World Championships trials and train overseas until the Asian Games.

Olympic medal-winning wrestler Bajrang was asked by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to participate in the World Championship trials or present a fitness certification if he wanted to be excused from this week's training in Patiala.

In order to practise abroad for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, which begin on September 23, Bajrang decided to forgo the World Championship trials on August 25 and 26.

Both Commonwealth Games gold medalist Deepak Punia (86 kg) and Bajrang, one of the six wrestlers who sat in protest at the Jantar Mantar against outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, do not want to compete in the World Championships in Belgrade starting on September 16. Instead, they prefer to put in extensive training sessions in order to get ready for the Asian Games.

“On 18th August Bajrang’s proposal to train in Kyrgyzstan from 21st August to 28th September (39 days) along with coach, strength & conditioning expert, physiotherapist and sparring partner was put up for discussion in a wrestling sub-committee meeting, where Olympian Deepak Punia’s proposal for training camp in Russia from 23rd August to 28th September (35 days) along with his coach & physiotherapist was also discussed,” the SAI said in a statement on Tuesday.

“During the discussion, the committee gave in-principal approval to both Bajrang and Deepak’s proposal subject to providing a fitness certificate before going abroad along with a justifiable reason for not participating in Senior World Championship Trials.

“Following this, Bajrang vide email on August 19th gave his reasons for not participating in World Championships trials. Additionally, medical fitness assessment was conducted by SAI on August 21st at NCOE Sonepat wherein he has been declared fit to play/train in competitive sports,” it said.

“Meanwhile, Deepak has also submitted his response and medical certificate on August 22nd. As the two have submitted the requisite documents, SAI has now requested the athletes to provide the dates for their travel. The tickets for the same will be booked on the first available flight as soon as their response is received.”

In contrast to Deepak, who wants to train in Khasavyurt (Russia) for five weeks (August 23–September 28) to prepare for the Asian Games, Bajrang has sent a request to train in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan (August 21–September 28).

Because the World Championships are the first Olympic Games qualifying event in Paris in 2024, SAI is upset that two of the nation's greatest wrestlers intend to skip the trials and the championship match.

While Deepak has asked for the assistance of trainer Kamal Malikov and physiotherapist Shubham Gupta for the training stints, 65kg grappler Bajrang, who took home bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has also requested the services of physiotherapist Anuj Gupta, personal coach Sujeet Maan, strength and conditioning expert Kaazi Kiron Mustafa Hasan, and sparring partner Jitender Kinha.

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