‘Equally happy with Ba­jrang’s feat’

Sportstar - - STRIKING GOLD - Y. B. SARANGI

Yo­gesh­war Dutt is de­lighted that his pro­tege Ba­jrang Punia has re­tained the 65 kg freestyle gold medal that the vet­eran wrestler had won at the In­cheon Asian Games four years ago.

At the 2014 Asiad, Dutt, a Lon­don Olympics bronze medal­list, had ended In­dia’s 2■­year­old gold medal drought in wrestling by se­cur­ing the 65 kg ti­tle. Punia’s feat in Jakarta was equally mem­o­rable for Dutt.

“I am very happy that Ba­jrang de­fended the gold medal for the coun­try. It had come af­ter a gap of 2■ long years and he con­tin­ued to as­sert In­dia’s supremacy,” Ba­jrang told

Sport­star.

Rem­i­nisc­ing on his long as­so­ci­a­tion with Punia, Dutt said he al­ways en­joyed train­ing with the young­ster and was elated to see him on the path of progress.

“Ba­jrang is a ded­i­cated wrestler from his child­hood. Since the time he joined the

akhara as a 13­14­year­old, he has never backed out of train­ing. He was pas­sion­ate about wrestling and did an equal amount of train­ing as me at such a young age.

“He al­ways showed his keen de­sire to learn and im­prove. His stam­ina is one of his big­gest as­sets. Be­sides, he has the hunger for suc­cess,” Dutt said.

Im­pressed with Punia’s ded­i­ca­tion, Dutt took it upon him­self to teach the nu­ances of wrestling to the rookie and helped him grow as a pro­fes­sional, first at the Ch­ha­trasal Sta­dium in Delhi and then as a team­mate at the na­tional camp in Sonepat.

“Since 2013, when he won a World Cham­pi­onships bronze medal, Ba­jrang’s progress has been re­mark­able. At that time, I switched to 65 kg and he wres­tled in 60 kg (which used to be my weight). How­ever, I al­ways in­tended to groom him to set­tle into the 65 kg, which is the best­suited Olympic weight for him.”

Dutt said he will be dou­bly happy if Punia went one step fur­ther and won a gold medal at the Olympics. “Our tar­get is to see Ba­jrang win the gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I am sure he will give his best to re­alise the dream,” said Dutt.

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