Gunning for gold at Asian C’ships, but eye on Oly: Deepak Punia

NEW DELHI, FEB 15 : Deepak Punia came out of the senior World Championships in September 2019 with a silver medal around his neck and heavy bandaging around his left ankle. This January, Deepak was knocked out in the qualifiers of the Matteo Pelicone Ranking Sries in Rome after going into the bout with a stomach ailment. Deepak is the reigning junior world champion and won silver in his very first senior world championship and so it might be considered a testament to his talent that he had an outside chance to do even better than he has in the past six months had it not been for the ankle injury and the stomach ailment.

The 20-year-old does not let such matters bother him too much though and he has little reason to. Deepak’s performance at the World Championships helped him qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in his first attempt and anything he wins until before the marquee event in July are bonuses.

“Ye competition keliye khel raha hu (I am participating in this for the competition),” Deepak told IANS about the Asian Championships to be held in the national capital next week. “But my target will always be to win gold. I am preparing as much as I can for it and the rest we’ll see what happens.” Deepak has been working with Belarusian 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medallist Murad Gaidarov since November. “Yes of course I trained with him in Russia. He is not making too many changes specifically for the Asian championships. Our main focus is on the Olympics,” said Deepak.

Deepak said that he is looking to keep things simple at the Asian Championships. The last thing he would want is to miss out on the best possible result that is available to him due to an injury or ailment, as was the case in the world’s and the ranking series.

“My tactics will be depending on what position I am in during the bout. I will try to react the right way to situations. All wrestlers that come to the championships have come through trials and qualifiers. So I can’t really say which one will be more difficult than the other,” said Deepak.

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