Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

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Commonwealth Games 2022: Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia is readying a more attacking game at the CWG 2022. After the Tokyo Olympics high, persistent injury problems had saw his time limited on the mat. But not anymore. A fully-fit Bajrang has new-found energy and is ready to take on his rivals. Follow Commonwealth Games 2022 and all Wrestling Updates on InsideSport.IN.

“I told my coach that I will attack more and play my old style but the body did not support me in Almaty. There is no lack of effort, I was actually putting in extra effort but was not getting performance and results,” Bajrang told PTI in an interview.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia set for attacking game at CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

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His new-found energy and enthusiasm come from encouraging results from a few tests he underwent — Technobody Assessment, Functional Movement Screening, Body Composition Analysis and Vo2max.

There is nothing wrong with his body, these tests affirm and help in getting rid of a “mental block” that had straight-jacketed the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist on the mat.

It was this mental block that had tied him to an ultra-defensive approach ever since he suffered a knee injury ahead of the Tokyo Games last year.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

He appeared in the CWG trials in New Delhi and just about managed to beat his compatriots. A few days later, he competed at Bolat Turlykhanov Cup in Almaty and lost a bout – against Uzbekistan’s Abbos Rakhmonov – that he had in his grasp.

All because of his defensive tactics, that had triggered speculations that Bajrang is past his prime. Even Bajrang himself began to doubt his worth.

“At times I thought I would never be able to repeat those stupendous performances. I felt my body has slowed down. Something was amiss in my body and it was consistently playing in my mind,” he shared his doubts.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia set for attacking game at CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

But he is quick to remind me that he has overcome that self-doubting phase.

“Now I feel my best is yet to come and you will see that. After coming back from Kazakhstan I underwent a few medical tests on the advice of my physio Anand Dubey to assess power, speed, body balance, stamina and endurance. The results are ‘super’ if not excellent.

“After seeing the encouraging test results, I analysed that I am doing better in training. Perhaps a mental block was there. It’s broken.”

Bajrang reveals that even an athlete of his calibre can start doubting himself if the mind gets clogged or if the fear of injury grips the mind.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

The 28-year-old earned a podium finish in each and every tournament he entered in the last five years. But all of that didn’t matter.

“I was disturbed, I know the media was also calling me out of concern (in Russia), but I did not need media at that time but rehabilitation. There was more load on my left knee because of an injury in my right knee.

“I did not have a physio and was doing rehab on my own after the Olympics. I trained for 8-10 days and injured my right knee again. The fear of getting injured again stuck to mind, it just crippled me, my attacking instincts.”

His physio Anand said, “To get that mental block cleared, it became imperative to have these tests done. He was playing defensive. He was struggling with speed, which got compromised because he was playing defensive. If he goes for his natural attacking game, the speed will return automatically. That’s his weapon.”

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

“I am feeling the change, it was all in my mind. I am attacking more now. There is no reason to fear anything now.”

Confidence is not the only thing that Bajrang has got back. It’s also the ‘desi’ style of training. Mat training took precedence over everything when he trained under Georgian coach Shako Bentinidis but now he is back to the Indian style, where preparing ‘Akhada’ is a must to add power to the body.

“Shako (Bentinidis) never liked Suhagi, Uthak Baithak (sit-ups), ‘Palti’. I have been doing these things since childhood. These are important exercises because you need to use power from ankle to head. It’s like doing ‘cardio’.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia set for attacking game at CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

“You get strength in your lower back, hands, and muscle endurance also gets better because you are repeating it again and again. It’s not an easy job, you need to arrange good soil, and mix turmeric, oil, henna to keep the soil soft. He had never seen all this. Now I have started doing it again. Twice a week I do it.

“Shako was a different and super coach. But his methods were different, for him mat training was supreme. You begin training from the mat and end on the mat.”

Commonwealth Games 2022: Bajrang Punia develops new attacking game for CWG 2022 after breaking mental block

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