With the COVID pandemic drastically reducing the number of international events, Indian wrestler Deepak Punia is eager to make the most of the Belgrade tourney.
When Indian wrestler Deepak Punia takes to the mat in the 86kg freestyle event at the Individual World Cup, the 27-year-old will bank on 10 months of intense training to succeed in Belgrade.
Unlike many who saw their life come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Deepak Punia had an akhara (mud pit) in Narela - a settlement on the Delhi-Haryana border - to fall back upon. He spent his time there under the supervision of his personal coach.
“I didn’t miss out on the training part in the lockdown period. I was following my schedule as in normal times,” Deepak Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, told the Times of India.
“I have worked a lot in some areas. I didn't go out with friends. I was focusing on my training. I was also in touch with Sushil bhaisaab (two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar). He has given me motivation and tips ahead of the Individual World Cup.”
With the Individual World Cup being the only major event ahead of the Olympic year, Deepak Punia realises the importance of a good show in Belgrade and experiment on the new tricks he recently picked up.
“I was eagerly waiting for a major competition so that we could participate and continue our preparation for the Olympics. A wrestler cannot live without a wrestling mat. Now, the time has come. I want to give my best in the Individual World Cup,” Punia said.
The Individual World Cup is a big tournament. I want to give my hundred per cent. I will take it one bout at a time. A medal is definitely on my mind. But the main target is the Olympics. - Deepak Punia
Determined for a medal finish at the Individual World Cup, for Deepak Punia, the competition will also be an opportunity to analyse his game.
“I want to improve in some areas. For that, I need to participate in as many tournaments as possible. Training and exercises are important, but the real learning experience comes from competitions,” the former junior world champion stated.