Indian freestyle wrestler Bajrang Puniya, who won bronze medal at 2020 Tokyo Olympics has received his visa for travel to the United Kingdom for the Commonwealth Games 2022, which will be hosted in Birmingham between July 28 and August 8. Bajrang’s UK visa was awaited owing to which he was unable to leave for his training in the US. In an exclusive conversation with The Daily Guardian he gave insights about his preparation for The Commonwealth Games. Excerpts:
Q: Tell us about your preparations for the Commonwealth Games.
A: Commonwealth Games preparations are going quite well. There is a camp at Sonepat for the training. I’m hoping to repeat my 2019, 2020 and 2021 performance and get off to a strong start at the Commonwealth Games. I have also recovered from the injury that I had.
Q: You will be heading to the US for training before the Games, so tell us why did you choose US as your destination for preparations?
A: I chose the US because we have partners there, the facilities are great, and I used to travel there before. There would be distractions if I lived in India because there may be wedding parties and birthdays which I will be forced to attend . So the focus is to concentrate on training atleast for a month or a month and a half so that I can give my best performance.
Q: Who according to you will be your biggest opponent, and trickiest opponent in the commonwealth games?
A: As you can see, when athletes compete for their nation, they do so just for the medal, and they practice for it as well. Therefore, we should not consider any of the opponents to be weak. These six minutes on the mat determine who is good. I haven’t seen the list of opponents; once I do, I’ll know who they are and how to compete against them.
Q. How much has Pro Wrestling League helped you in preparing you for tough challenges?
A. I believe there have been four seasons of the Pro League since it began, giving Indian wrestlers a wonderful opportunity to compete with Olympians and World Champions. PWL was one such platform where we had the chance to further correct our mistakes. I’m hoping they just start Pro League again and Indian players will get an opportunity to participate in it and help India to reach new heights.
Q. What do you feel about these kinds of leagues in general, do they play a major role in uplifting sports in the country?
A. Whenever I compete I always try to give my best since I have the support of 130 crore Indians as fans. I, therefore, believe that whether I compete in small or big events, I should bring a medal back home. Since I believe that everyone in my country hopes that Bajrang will win a medal, I don’t feel any pressure, but feel proud to be in a position where people have lot of expectation from me. This inspires me to play for my nation with dedication.
Q. You have split with your coach – Shako Bentinidis with whom you have won Olympic bronze and Asian games gold, what is the reason? And how is your new coach Sujeet Maan’s technique different from Shako?
A. Look for the three and half years to four years that we worked together, Shako was a really terrific coach, and I really enjoyed working with him. Every player has a different style of play, regardless of whether the coach is Indian or foreigner. The year 1974 saw Shako and Sujeet both play for India; Sujeet is the number one player and is a recipient of the Arjuna Award. Sujeet Maan, who has a lengthy history of working with the India team, is another excellent coach. And now that he is associated with me. I’m making an effort to do what he instructs and am hoping to follow some of his lessons. Shako had some excellent fighting techniques. I’m trying to learn and get experience from everyone who knows wrestling, no matter how little or big they are. Naturally, both coaches are excellent.
Q. What is your favourite technique?
A. I think the best technique is the one that is applied correctly and helps us win the wrestling match. I believe I should wrestle for six minutes, therefore I give my best and do not give up till the last minute. Therefore, for me, the technique that is used on time is the best.
Q. Tell us something about your training how is it going and do you think that the training is sufficient?
A. I train in the morning and the evening. There is a lot of effort being put forward. Due to an injury, I had to miss a lot of training, and I had to recover from it and start performing again. I am working with my coach and physio for atleast three and half hours in the morning and evening. I’m hoping to get back in shape and bring home medals for the nation.
Q. How does it feel to have your life partner around you in these tournaments?
A. She is also from this field, so when we work together on anything, we really benefit from each other’s expertise. She also comes from the wrestling family, the very renowned Phogat family. She is also a wrestler, which has greatly aided in mutual understanding.
Q. What is Bajrang Puniya planning to convey to his junior Bajrang Puniya?
A. We will try to put our kids in wrestling because we are familiar with the sport and can apply our experience. It is up to him or her to make the decision. We will make every effort to perform wrestling, but we will also support him in whatever he/she chooses to do.
Q. What message would you like to give to parents who sometimes discourage their children from playing sports and ask them to concentrate on their studies?
A. I won’t claim that you force your kids to play sports. But allow them to play for 1-2 hours for their health and fitness. Sports are crucial, too, in addition to education. And the notion that sports have no future was once prevalent. The state and federal governments both support the child’s participation in sports. Numerous modifications have occurred. Because women are now also winning medals, parents’ perspectives are shifting.
Q. How is that feeling when you run to the stadium with the flag and win a medal?
A. Look, that feeling cannot be expressed in words, it is the best moment for a sportsperson, and it feels great when all the countrymen proudly salute the flag we are holding. I don’t think there can be anything better in the life of an athlete.
Q. Bajrang If you tell us how your routine is, many sportspersons and wrestlers want to be like you, then they will be happy to know your routine.
A. Discipline comes first, followed by diet, and most importantly, hard work. Only when you combine all these factors can you achieve success in any industry, including sports. I am very fortunate that I have got a good coaching staff. You need to follow strict routine if you have to progress in life.
Q. Bajrang you come from a humble background and belong to a middle-class family, how has the journey to reach here?
A. Despite the ups and downs, it has been a wonderful experience. I feel fortunate because I think God has brought me to this point. I feel fortunate to get the blessings and wishes of people around me. And no matter in whatever field anyone is working, every man should put in a lot of effort. God undoubtedly rewards us for the work we do by giving us something in return. No matter what field you are in, keep working hard because you will undoubtedly see benefits.
Q. Any memorable moment that you still remember?
A. My family wasn’t really sports-savvy when I first started playing when I was a kid, but they were still quite encouraging. My father used to farm, my mother was a homemaker, and my older brother also stayed at home. I might have been farming or doing a job if I wasn’t wrestling. I am grateful that my parents, who worked so hard have helped me advance so much, never advised me to give up wrestling because they couldn’t afford it.
Q. We recently heard that you are troubled by visa-related issues, what would you like to say about it?
A. I lost my visa, but the authorities can tell more about it than I can. There was a news story today claiming that Bajrang is angry, but that is not at all the case. Simply put, I am missing my training because of this visa. My visa arrived today, and in the evening I received word that your visa had also arrived. I wasn’t upset at all; I was nervous that the training would be excellent if the visa were in place.
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What Sports Are The Most Frequently Bet On?
Betting on sports is a vast industry making up over 30% of the entire gambling industry. If we take a look at what this might look like in numbers, around 500 billion dollars is used for gambling around the world each year. This means that approximately 150 billion dollars are spent on sports betting annually, which shows just how big a market it is.You are probably wondering what sports are most frequently bet on throughout the year. Here is a list of some of the most popular sports that people tend to bet on the most. We will take a look at whether it is because people just enjoy watching and betting on their favorite sport or whether a specific sport gives you an advantage while betting.
In the USA, American Football is without a doubt the number one sport that people both love to play and watch. The NFL has some of the most diehard fans of any sport, and people follow the game like a religion. With huge tournaments such as the super bowl, which attract attention from all around the world, it is no surprise that American Football is one of the most popular sports when it comes to betting.Another reason that people love to bet on American Football is the variety of leagues that are available to bet on. People can bet on college football all the way up to the NFL, which means there isn’t a shortage of teams to rally behind and place bets on. They can also choose to bet on live games or make predictions before they start. More options mean more opportunities to place all kinds of bets on different teams, which adds to the popularity of this sport in the gambling scene.
Soccer is the biggest sport in the world with the largest number of people playing it globally. It is then no surprise that it is also a huge sport when it comes to placing bets. With the advancement of technology, the types of bets that people can place on soccer matches have progressed over the years. The most noticeable type of bet that has caused sports betting within soccer to skyrocket is the ability to cash out early. This type of betting has made watching soccer a lot more exciting as people have to be paying extra attention to the screen to decide whether they want to get out of the bet or stay in for the maximum gain.In the UK alone, it is estimated that a mind-blowing 1 billion pounds are spent on soccer bets each year. Soccer as a sport has also only gone up in popularity over the last few years with the American soccer league, MLS, gaining a lot of attention. Although it is a long way from being as popular as American football, soccer in the US appears to be gaining a lot more traction and fans from around the world. For this reason, it is easy to see that soccer is going nowhere anytime soon, and the interest in betting on the sport will likely only increase.
For those that are unaware, horse racing was the number one sport for betting for the longest time. This may not still be the case however, horse racing still plays a massive part in the sports gambling world, with an estimated 100 billion dollars being spent betting on the sport each year. In addition to this, horse racing is the only sport where you can actually bet on it at all times of the day.Horse racing is a huge day out for many people who save part of their earnings to spend betting on horses in the hopes of winning big. This may come as a big surprise, but Japan actually has the biggest horse racing market, with the United Kingdom following behind and then Australia behind them.
The number three spot when it comes to sports most frequently bet on is tennis. You might not have expected this but there are some reasons why this is the case. The first being that placing bets on tennis is considered relatively safe due to the odds being fairly low. For example, if one of the top players, such as Rafael Nadal, is scheduled to play against a player who is not considered very strong, it is a relatively safe bet to place on Nadal winning.
HUMPY, SACHDEV, KULKARNI GIVE INDIA LEAD IN WOMEN’S SECTION AT 44TH CHESS OLYMPIAD
Koneru Humpy, Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni scored victories as India A pulled off a 3.5-0.5 win against Kazakhstan to emerge as sole leader in the women’s section after ninth round of 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu on Monday.
Top-seed India A were given a winning start in the penultimate round by Humpy when she outperformed Zhansaya Abdumalik. R Vaishali, on the other hand, had to share points against Bibisara Assaubayeva before Sachdev and Kulkarni tilted the result of the match in India’s favour after securing wins over Xeniya Balabayeva and Guliskhan Nakhbayeva in their respective games.
With just one more round remaining, India A have grabbed the leading spot with 17 points while Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine are jointly holding the second position with 16 points each.
India B and India C also notched up identical 3-1 wins in their respective Round 9 matches. While India B defeated the Netherlands with Padmini Rout, Mary Ann Gomes and Divya Deshmukh scoring victories, India C thrashed Sweden. PV Nandhidhaa and Pratyusha Bodda scored victories for India C whereas Eesha Karavade and M Varshini Sahiti settled for draws.
THE GREAT INDIA RUN ENTERS PUNJAB, RUNNERS REACH DINANAGAR
The Kashmir leg of the Great India Run culminated today with 11 runners entering Punjab on Tuesday evening. The runners have started their run from Mansar Lake and reached Dinanagar covering a distance of 89kms. The runners reached Dinanagar via Samba, Keediyan Gandiyal Bridge and Aman Bhalla College.
After a night halt, they will start their journey tomorrow to DAV College, Hoshiarpur via Mukerian. The Kashmir leg saw the runners complete a total distance of 255kms running through iconic locations including Bahihal, Patnitop and Mansar Lake.
The relay-run will cover 829 kilometers across 4 states from Srinagar to New Delhi from August 5 to August 15. The run is being organize to celebrate the 75th Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. An initiative of iTV & iTV Foundation, the run builds on the success of the first chapter of the Great India Run held in 2016.
The Flag-off in Srinagar was done by Shri Manoj Sinha, L-G J&K and Shri Kartik Sharma, Rajya Sabha MP from Lal Chowk, Srinagar. In support of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, the L-G handed the lead runner a national flag after unfurling it at the venue. The first leg of the run is being led by Arun Bhardwaj, an Ultra-marathon runner.
The run venue was decorated with 75 Indian tricolours to mark 75 years of Independence. The route covers Banihal, Patnitop, Mansar Lake, Dinanagar, Hoshiarpur, Rupnagar, Ambala Cantt. finally culminating in Delhi on August 15. Full details of the route are available at the twitter handle @TGIR2022. Daily coverage of the run will also be visible on national TV and the national press. The culmination ceremony will be held in New Delhi on August 15th with Union Minister Jitendra Singh as Chief Guest.
India announce squad for Asia Cup 2022; Bumrah ruled out
The All-India Senior Selection Committee on Monday announced the 14-members squad for the upcoming Asia Cup. The much-anticipated Asia Cup cricket tournament will take place from August 27 this year. The 15th edition of the tournament will be played in the UAE between six teams (main event). Defending champions India are also the most successful team, having won the trophy seven times. While the last edition of the tournament was held in an ODI format, this edition will feature the T20 format.
The six teams are divided into two groups with India, Pakistan and a qualifying team in Group A; and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan forming Group B. Each team plays the other once in the group stage with the top two teams from each group advancing to the Super 4 round. The top 2 teams from Super 4 will qualify for the final.
India’s squad for Asia Cup: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan.
The star pacer of India Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel were not available for selection owing to injuries. They are currently undergoing rehab at the NCA in Bengaluru.
Three players – Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel and Deepak Chahar have been named as standbys.
Tennis legend Serena Williams announces retirement
American legend Serena Williams, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, announced her retirement from tennis on Tuesday, saying she is “evolving away” from the sport. The 40-year-old tennis star said that the best word to describe what she is up to is “evolution” and that she wants to grow her family. “I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people,” Serena said in an article for Vogue magazine. Earlier this year, she was knocked out at Wimbledon in her first singles match. However, she has now set her eyes on the US Open in what could prove her farewell tournament.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun,” she said in the Vogue interview. She has been ranked singles world number one by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks.
She also finished as the year-end number one five times. Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the open era, and the second-most of all time, only behind Margaret Court’s 24.
Indian boxers receive warm welcome
CWG 2022 medal-winning boxers Nitu Ghangas, Sagar Ahlawat and Jaismine Lamboria received a warm welcome from people in Bahadurgarh after a successful campaign in Birmingham.
India finished 4th in the medal tally at the recently-concluded CWG 2022 in Birmingham with 22 Gold, 15 Silver and 23 Bronze medals and a total of 61 medals at the Commonwealth Games. People interacted with the boxers, felicitated them with garlands and clicked pictures with them. Nitu Ghanghas told ANI during the interaction, “After winning the gold, I have been getting good wishes from people across the country. I hope I continue receiving the same in future and I will keep winning medals for the country. I have competitions this year and I will keep winning medals with focus.”
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