Bajrang Punia has come of age having finally won a gold medal at a major international event and the wrestler is eager to keep the juggernaut rolling at the World Wrestling Championship later this year.
Coming back from a long injury lay-off, Bajrang became the lone Indian wrestler to bag a yellow metal at the recently-concluded Asian Wrestling Championship in the Capital and put an end to the gold drought in his career.
"I am an Asian champion now. A gold is a gold and it cannot be compared to any other medal that I had won earlier. Gold has its own shine. It's a big thing. Becoming a champion really matters and I would like to win medals at bigger international competitions," Bajrang said.
With his eyes firmly trained on the World Championship in Paris in August, Bajrang said his recent feat has put him in contention for a medal at the world level.
"Asia has the likes of Iran and Japan, whose wrestlers are among the best in the world. After becoming an Asian champion, I have got the confidence of doing well at the world level as well," Bajrang, who beat South Korea's Seungchul Lee 6-2 in men's 65kg freestyle final to clinch the gold, said.
"I have already started focussing on the World Championship. The competition would be much tougher there but I am all ready to work harder and concentrate on strength training so that I could be more aggressive," the 23-year-old added.
One advice that his mentor, Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, gave him was to attack more rather than defend, and Bajrang is following it to the tee.
"Yogi bhai always tells me to keep attacking. That's my strength. Whenever I get defensive it goes against me. That's a flaw in my game and I have to be careful not to let that aspect surface during a fight, otherwise I end up being on the losing side.
"I got defensive during the World Cup and ended up losing points due to that. Yogi bhai told me to keep up the defense of my legs, and not to provide the opponents an opportunity to attack," he explained.
Another asset of Bajrang is his "stamina" and the 2013 World Championship bronze medallist said he would continue to work on his speed in order to do well in the future tournaments.
"I rely a lot on my pace during the attacks. I practice hard to increase my speed and that in turns enhances my stamina," Bajrang, who won a silver medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, said.
One more strategy that benefited Bajrang at the Asian Championship was not to get influenced by the draw as he felt that in order to become a champion, one needs to defeat every rival on the way.
"I never cared whether it was an easy or a difficult draw because I knew that if I had to win the gold medal then I would have to defeat whosoever came in the way. I strategised according to each and every opponent I faced and never let myself got bogged down by the big names," revealed Bajrang, who has now climbed up to 65kg from 60kg.
Being an Asian Champion, Bajrang now wants to lead by example and become an inspiration for the youngsters.
"I hope that my win is going to be an inspiration to the junior wrestlers. I look up to the Olympic medallists like Yogi bhai. I would want to set an example like that and this Asian Championship gold medal will give me confidence to do well in future tournaments," said Bajrang.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)