Excited about receiving the Arjuna award from the President of India, wrestler Bajrang has reworked his travel schedule for the World Championship in the USA and has decided to leave only after personally receiving the coveted honour.
The Indian wrestling team would be leaving for the World Championship in Las Vegas tentatively on August 20 but Bajrang said he will collect his award on August 29 before boarding the flight to US for the September 7-12 event.
Bajrang, however, insisted that the changed plan will have no bearing on his medal hopes and he would have enough
time to acclimatise.
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“The team will be leaving around August 20 of this month for Las Vegas but I would stay back to collect my award. I will be going only after the award ceremony on August 29,” Bajrang, who competes in Men’s 61kg Freestyle category, told PTI.
“But I am sure it will not hamper my acclimatisation as my bout in on September 10 and I will have enough time to
prepare for it,” he added.
Bajrang and Babita (Female 53kg) are the two grapplers shortlisted for the prestigious award this year.
The 21-year-old said the honour will motivate him to go for the gold medal.
“It is a big honour and I am feeling at the top of the world. This honour will encourage me to bring more laurels for the country. At the moment, I am motivated to win the gold medal at the upcoming World Championship.
“I am targetting nothing less than the yellow metal despite being aware of the fact that it is going to be a very tough competition, where the best in the world would be taking part,” Bajrang said.
Bajrang, who had won a bronze medal in the 60kg division at the 2013 World Wrestling Championships, said this year the tournament holds more importance as it will also be the first qualifying event for 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I have already won a bronze in the World Championship and I aim to better the colour of my medal this time and thereby qualify for the Rio Olympics. My total focus is on Rio Olympics next year,” 2013 Asian Wrestling Championships bronze medallist said.
Last year, Bajrang had won three silver medals — at Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Asian championship and International Wrestling tournament in Sassari City, Italy.
“The last couple of years have been very fruitful and I have been giving consistent performances. I just hope to continue the good work, at least till the Rio Games.”
Bajrang had been suffering from a back injury for quite some time, due to which he also failed to take part in the selection trials, conducted by the Wrestling Federation of India last month, for the World Championship.
But considering his request and past performances, the selection committee had decided that the winner of the trial in his category (61kg) would only participate in the Senior International Wrestling Tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The final candidate to represent India in 61kg category for World Championship was chosen after another trail, in which Bajrang emerged with flying colours.
Asked if there is enough time for him to prepare for the upcoming event, Bajrang said: “My back pain was a problem. But now I have completely recovered and have started practising. I also defeated my opponent at the selection trail on August 4. I still have almost a month to train before the WorldChampionship and am confident of a good preparation.”
He admitted it would be a tough competition and one has to be on his toes to finish on the podium.
“The tournament is going to be really tough and there would be stiff competition from the wrestlers of Iran, Russia, Japan. But I am confident of booking a berth for India in the Olympics,” said Bajrang.
Top six wrestlers in each category at the World Championship would qualify for the Rio Games.