Ligament tear rules Bajrang Punia out of World Championships, brings early end to his 2021 season
Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia will not compete in the upcoming wrestling World Championships after being advised a six-week rehabilitation to treat the ligament tear he suffered in his right knee in run up to the Tokyo Games. The World Championships will be held in Oslo, Norway from October 2-10 and Bajrang will not be able to begin his mat training until the rehabilitation programme is compete.
Bajrang recently underwent an MRI scan to know the extent of the injury he suffered in Russia in June before the Olympics and consulted Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala, who heads the Centre for Sports Medicine at Mumbai's Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
"It's a ligament tear and I have been asked to follow a rehabilitation programme for six weeks by Dr Dinshaw. I won't be able to compete at the World Championship," Bajrang told PTI.
There is no ranking series event lined up in the remainder of the year and Bajrang said his season is over.
"The Worlds was the only major championship in the calender for this year. I don't see myself competing in any other tournament this season," he added.
Bajrang had suffered the injury in the run up to the Tokyo Games when he competed at a Russian tournament -- Ali Aliyev in June.
Bajrang had forfeited his semi-finals against Abulmazhid Kudiev, who got hold of the Indian's right leg and pulled him abruptly in the first period of the bout.
The impact had an effect on Bajrang's right knee and the limping grappler immediately quit the mat but competed at the Olympics and won a bronze in 65kg category.
"Since it was my first Olympics and I had a dream to win an Olympic medal, I competed through pain in Tokyo. I had to do it."
Bajrang said he was not consulting any specific physiotherapist for his rehabilitation.
"I am doing it myself in Sonepat. Dr. Dinshaw has advised a few exercises, that I am doing everyday now in gym. The mat-training time will also go into the rehab," he said.
The 27-year-old said he wants to continue with his Georgian coach Shako Bentinidis, who has now left for his country since the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is yet to offer him a fresh contract.
The WFI will have a meeting with the wrestlers to gather feedback regarding all the foreign coaches involved with the Indian wrestlers before deciding on their fresh contracts.
While Bajrang trained with Bentinidis, Olympic silver medallist Ravi Dahiya had a personal coach in Russia's Kamal Malikov.
Deepak Punia also had a Russian coach in Murad Gaidarov, who was expelled from Tokyo for assaulting the referee, who had officiated the bronze medal play-off that the Indian had lost to San Marino's Myles Nazim Amine.
The WFI had then terminated the services of Gaidarov.
Sources in the WFI said Ravi's coach Malikov will certainly get a fresh contract and even as the federation is still not completely satisfied with the performance of Bentinidis, it will still consider Bajrang's request if he wants to continue with him.
(With PTI inputs)