#NewsBytesExclusive: Wrestler Bajrang Punia on Padma Shri, success, and more!
The star wrestler was also recently named among the recipients of the prestigious Padma Shri this year.
Speaking to NewsBytes in an exclusive interview, Punia talked about his success, wrestling in India, and more.
The only wrestler among Padma Shri recipients this year
For Punia, the year 2019 started on a great note as he was, on the Republic Day eve, named among the 2019 Padma Shri awardees.
The 24-year-old is the only wrestler among those named as Padma Shri recipients this year.
When asked how he feels about being conferred with Padma Shri, Punia said, "I feel honored and I am grateful for it."
Punia reveals who encouraged him to pursue wrestling
Punia, who began wrestling when he was just seven, said a wrestler named Bharat Kesri Phalwan Narender Punia encouraged him to pursue wrestling and his father supported him. He added, "I loved wrestling and simply worked hard. Everything began to unfold accordingly."
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Punia on how Yogeshwar Dutt's mentorship helped him succeed
Punia often attributes his success to veteran wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt's mentorship.
On how Dutt helped him, Punia said, "He has been my mentor for more than 10 years...he understands my strengths and weaknesses."
"He has watched all my games and points out where I could have done better. He has been a great teacher, mentor, critic, and an elder brother to me," he added.
The star wrestler reveals why year 2018 was memorable
Punia had a great 2018 as well; he won Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medals and also became the "World No. 1" in the 65kg category.
He said, "2018 was a memorable year because of the medals I could secure for my country and how it started giving me hope and inspiration for the Olympics gold I am after."
Punia on what was most challenging during last year's journey
Punia said, "As an athlete, the most difficult and challenging part is to wake up every day with a hope that you will make the most of it, and living a disciplined life and dedicating yourself completely to the game."
"Some days are more challenging than others but every time I step on the mat against an opponent, it's a challenge nevertheless," he said.
Punia explains the changes he has witnessed in Indian wrestling
On what changes he's witnessed in Indian wrestling since his 2013 debut, Punia said, "People are more aware of wrestling now... Athletes are more exposed to new training methods and different training grounds- be it national or international."
"We have more professionals like international coaches, sports physiotherapists, acupressure practitioners, masseurs, and (there are) many such things which were hard to get before," he added.
Indian wrestlers command lot of respect on world stage: Punia
On why Indian wrestlers command a lot of respect on the world stage, Punia said that it is because of the hardships they go through and the discipline they follow.
He also said, "We have a very unique kind of relationship with our coach whom we call guruji out of respect. They give strict guidelines and principles to follow which make us better."
Punia, who debuted in German League, explains how it's different
Punia also recently made his debut in the German League. When asked how it is different from Indian tournaments, the wrestler said, "It's an international platform."
"The experience is quite different because when I am in India I get the advantage of being at home. Here, I have to adapt to different things like weather, food, and training with foreign athletes, etc.," he added.
Punia on fitness: It's really team effort to remain fit
Punia is one of the world's fittest wrestlers. He said, "I train according to the schedule prepared by my coach...learning and applying new techniques, playing different games like football and basketball to keep fit."
He works out according to what he has learned from professionals, coaches, and mentors.
"When it comes to diet, I eat clean and keep away from junk food," he added.
His message: Foolish to wait for right-moment to work hard
Signing off with a motivating message to his fans and NewsBytes' readers, Punia said, "If you don't have all the facilities...right now, keep working hard and things will eventually start to unfold. It's foolish to wait for the right moment to work hard."
Commonwealth Wrestling Championships
Republic Day 2019
Bharat Kesri Phalwan Narender Punia
Wrestler Bajrang Punia