New Delhi: On Tuesday afternoon, when Bajrang lost to his Bulgarian rival Vladimir Dubov in the opening round, he felt his dream of winning a medal in the World Championship was over.
“Initially, I was a disappointed man. I could not give my best despite repeated advice from my coaches.
“The Bulgarian took full advantage of it. I felt I had let the nation down,” Bajrang told The Telegraph from Budapest.
However, after Dubov reached the final, which paved the way for Bajrang to come back to the repechage rounds, the Haryana boy received valuable tips from Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt and went on to win the bronze medal in the 60kg freestyle category.
“There are two guiding forces in my career — Yogeshwar and Narender (Singh). Both of them come from my village in Haryana and have inspired me to become a professional wrestler,” said Bajrang.
“From the beginning of my career, Yogeshwar remained my role model. What I am today is because of these two persons,” added the 20-year-old grappler.
Interestingly, Yogeshwar, also a 60kg grappler, was the selectors’ first choice for the World meet. However, Bajrang was picked up when Yogeshwar decided to pull out because of an injury. “At the start of the repechage rounds, Yogeshwar told me that I should be able to retain my strength for the entire six-minute bout,” said Bajrang.
“After the change of rules, strength has become more important than skills. Yogeshwar told me that if I managed to be steady on my legs, I would have a chance to come back in the second round. He is an experienced man and his advice was of great help.”
Asked how he would like to celebrate the victory after returning home, Bajrang said he would hit the mat immediately. “There is no scope for celebrations. That will happen only if I manage to win a medal in the Rio Olympics.
Meanwhile, Narsingh Yadav missed out on a bronze after going down 1-6 to Ali Shabanau of Belarus in the repechage final of the 74kg category, in Budapest, on Wednesday. Nirmala Devi (48kg) and Vinesh (51kg) made early exits from the women's competition.