Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia has pulled out of the Yasar Dogu wrestling tournament, a World Ranking Series, in Turkey after straining a muscle in the lower leg during practice.
Medical experts in Istanbul have advised him not to compete as it might further aggravate the niggle, Punia’s personal coach Sujeet Maan said on Saturday.
India have fielded a strong squad in the four-day Yasar Dogu competition that will conclude on Sunday.
“On the advice of both the team physio and the doctor, we decided not to compete in the World Ranking Series,” Maan told Sportskeeda over the phone from Istanbul. “The medical experts believe the injured muscle shouldn’t be taxed to avoid further soreness.”
The Istanbul World Rankings Series was Punia’s first competition since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, where he bagged the bronze in men’s 65kg freestyle. The 28-year-old star freestyle wrestler was eagerly looking forward to competing in Turkey to evaluate his fitness.
Punia has been practicing since January with his personal coach to prepare for the World Ranking Series.
In the build-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Punia suffered a knee injury in June 2021. He braved it to end up on the podium in Tokyo.
Post the Olympic Games, Punia also split with Georgian wrestling expert Shako Bentinidis, who has been guiding the Indian wrestler since 2018. In January this year, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games champion requested Maan to become his personal coach.
To maintain his physical fitness, Punia will continue to exercise his upper body muscles, his coach said.
“We have to maintain a certain level of fitness as the Asian Wrestling Championships in April is an important tournament of the year,” the coach explained. “We don’t want to miss the continental competition.”
Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July and the Hangzhou Asian Games in September are the other two major international competitions this year.