My focus is on medals for India, not rankings: Bajrang Punia

New Delhi: Ace Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has said he is happy to top the ranking charts but his main focus is to win more medals for the country, especially in the Olympics.

Bajrang, who recently bagged the first position in the 65-kg category at the United World Wrestling (UWW) event, also said he is not under pressure to be the top wrestler as he simply believes on performing on the mat each time.

Talking to IANS, the 25-year-old wrestler said: “I feel happy to be the number one wrestler but in true sense, rankings doesn’t matter much for me. My aim is to deliver my hundred per cent every time and get medals for my nation.”

It is for the first time when 15 grapplers from India have made to the rankings released by the UWW. Bajrang is happy over the development and believes it will motivate other wrestlers to perform better.

“It shows that Indian wrestling is in right direction as many of our wrestlers are in the top 10. It will certainly motivate others to do even better,” he opined.

Bajrang was defeated by Yianni Diakomihalis of the US in a thrilling bout at the iconic Madison Square Garden last month, going down to the American by a close margin of 8-10 in the 65 kg category bout. He, however, scripted history as he became the only Indian to fight a bout at the Madison.

“It was a great moment to fight at the Madison Square as I am the only Indian who got an opportunity to do so. The American Wrestling Federation had invited me there and I learnt a lot there. It was a tough fight and I will always remember it. Many Indians came to watch the fight and cheered for me which boosted my confidence,” he said.

Bajrang, who mostly trains abroad, said that there is not much difference in practice but the weather is better. “I underwent training in America and the experience was great. Though the training is more or less same everywhere but the climate is ideal over there as in India, it gets difficult to practise in hot weather.”

With the world celebrating World Olympic Day on June 23, Bajrang said: “For me, Olympic Day will be the day when I bag a medal at the Olympics. But yes, it is a good thing to celebrate such a day as Olympics is a major sporting event.”

By Abhishek Upadhyay