Bajrang’s comeback the spotlight as India eye prosperous medal haul at Asian Wrestling Championships

When Bajrang competes on Saturday, his health – as a whole lot as structure – will come below scrutiny.

For once, Bajrang Punia will be up in opposition to himself.
For the first time given that triumphing the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Bajrang will compete in an global event this week at the Asian Championships, which commence in Ulaanbaatar on Tuesday. However, he won’t be dealing with many of his ancient competitors in the 65kg weight class.
There’ll be no Takuto Otoguro, the Olympic champion from Japan who has been a consistent thorn in Bajrang’s side, this week; or even Daulet Niyazbekov, whom the Indian beat to win the bronze in Tokyo. In their absence, Bajrang’s route to the continental title, which he has received twice, is anticipated to be pretty smooth.

For the first time since winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Bajrang will compete in an international tournament this week at the Asian Championships. (File)

The largest challenge, though, will come from within. This was once evident for the duration of the choice trials for the Asian Championships ultimate month. In the closing in opposition to Rohit, Bajrang was once a long way from convincing as he got here lower back from 0-2 down to win 4-2. It may have surpassed off as rustiness, owing to lack of competition, however Bajrang has been struggling with a knee harm which compelled him to pass over the rating collection activities in Rome and Istanbul this year.
He pointed fingers at the lack of a suitable help system, claiming that he had to endure the rehab technique via himself barring the assist of a expert physiotherapist, which delayed his return. Bajrang later performed down the remarks however when he competes on Saturday, his health – as an awful lot as shape – will come below scrutiny.
Before that, however, there’ll be a lot going on from an Indian factor of view given that this is the first predominant championship on account that the Olympics and a precursor to the Asian Games later this year.
The opposition starts with Greco-Roman, a fashion that’s generally been Greek to Indian wrestlers. On Tuesday, variety two seed in the 87kg category, Sunil Kumar will be in action. For him to healthy or higher his preceding high-quality overall performance – silver in the 2019 version – will be a tremendous mission given that the weight type is brimming with choicest wrestlers.
Former Asian champion and pinnacle seed Nursultan Tursynov of Kazakhstan will headline this category, which additionally consists of Iran’s Naser Alizadeh, the gold medallist from the ultimate edition, and Uzbekistan’s Jalgasbay Berdimuratov. South Korea’s Jin-hyeok Kim, a former Asian bronze medallist, will solely add to the intrigue and similarly complicate Sunil’s direction to the podium.
High-flying Anshu
While Bajrang will generally be up in opposition to himself, the fast-emerging superstar in women’s wrestling, defending champion in the 57kg category, Anshu Malik, will be eager to show she can repeat the overall performance in a more desirable field.
One of the largest sights of the Asian Championships this week will be the return of the Japanese and Chinese female after six months. The wrestlers from these two powerhouses took section in the World Championships remaining year, and skipped the final version of the continental event due to the fact of pandemic-related journey problems.
In their absence, Anshu emerged as the fantastic in her type at the Asian Championships and gained a silver at the Worlds ultimate year. In Mongolia, the pinnacle seed will appear to assert her dominance in a tricky, seven-wrestler field.
The primary undertaking for Anshu ought to come from Japan’s Tsugumi Sakurai. A world champion in the 55kg class – a non-Olympic category – Sakurai moved up with the aid of a couple of kilos to the 57kg to lay down a marker for the Paris Games, where she’ll strive to overcome two-time Olympic champion Risako Kawai to get into the Japanese team.
As the first step in that direction, Sakurai will seem to be to win her maiden continental title in 57kg, with Anshu being her largest rival. The Indian wrestler, meanwhile, will additionally have to deal with the challenges posed with the aid of junior world champion Nilufar Raimova of Kazakhstan, in what seems to be a three-way contest in this weight class.
With veteran wrestler Vinesh Phogat but to return to opposition after the Tokyo Olympics, Anshu will be one of India’s largest hopes this week alongside with Sarita Mor – every other defending champion – in the 59kg category.
India vs Iran in freestyle
While Japan will be the largest check for the female wrestlers, India’s duels in opposition to Iranian grapplers will determine who receives the top hand in the men’s categories.
India have completed 2d solely to Iran in the final three versions of the Asian Championship however with the West Asian usa sending a squad with some quite clean faces, India, who have fielded a sturdy side, will fancy their probabilities to end on top.
Iran are besides some of their largest names, which include world champion Hassan Yazdani in the 86kg, making the project that a good deal simpler for the Indians. Bajrang, for instance, will be up towards remaining year’s junior world champion in the 61kg class, Rahman Amouzadkhalili, in his pursuit of a medal whilst in the 86kg category, Deepak Punia will reflect onconsideration on his probabilities of a maiden Asian title boosted in the absence of Yazdani.
But not like Bajrang, who is a favored in his weight category, Deepak and Ravi Dahiya, the different medal hopefuls, will have to navigate previous challenging opponents.

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