Star wrestler Bajrang Punia remains stunned by the doctors on site decision to use ‘stiff tape’ on his bleeding head, severely hampering his focus ahead of the quarter-final game against US John Michael Diakomihalis at the World Championship. Bajrang, who was chasing his first world title, suffered a head injury in his opening game against Cuban Alejandro Enrique Vlades Tobier in the opening minute of the game in Belgrade.
The doctors at the scene rushed to the mat and applied ‘rigid tape’, which is actually used to stabilize the knee and ankle. Usually tennis players and basketball players use that tape.
“God knows why they did that? It was irritating because my hair was being pulled because it was on my head. They didn’t even put cotton wool on the wound and applied the tape right away. I had to cut my hair in certain places to get there. It took me almost 20 minutes to remove that,” Bajrang told PTI.
“Instead of devising a strategy against the American, me and my team were fighting to get that tape off my head. All I had about 20-25 minutes before I collided with the American and all that time was lost “, the 28-year-old offended.
dr. Anand Dubey, who is linked with Bajrang as his personal physio, said the doctors should ideally have used a cohesive tape.
“The hard tape can even cause swelling of the skull, because even a gentle touch would irritate and pull the hair. You know how wrestlers keep putting their hands on the heads of the rivals. So we decided to remove it and put a cohesive tape,” explains Dubey.
“The cohesive tape is flexible. Once the impact is made when it comes into contact with a body part during an attacking movement, it would automatically return to its original shape, not causing irritation or pulling hair,” he said.
Bajrang lost the match to the American by technical superiority to get out of the gold medal race. He later won a bronze medal, coming through second chance round.
The only Indian wrestler to have won four world medals, Bajrang said losing to Diakomihalis through technical superiority was not something he expected.
“I would have lost 10-9 to this man in 2019. I’m not saying I would have beaten him easily, but at least I expected a close fight. First, the head injury and then this tape recording problem , really hurt my chances.” he said.
Bajrang’s team decided not to have stitches, preferring to keep the wound open.
Bajrang’s personal coach Sujeet Mann explained the reason: “Stitchs can open in the middle of a fight if you get a blow in the same spot. There’s always that mental block that can open it up again, so we didn’t want Bajrang to worry about that. ” Bajrang defeated Vazgen Tevanyan of Aremenia 7-6 in the repechage round before passing Puerto Rico’s Sebastian C Rivera 11-9 in the bronze playoff.
Bajrang, however, gave away a lot of points. All his attacks were close and he was actually behind before beating his rivals. Against the Armenian he allowed a 0-4 lead and in the bronze fight he was at one point behind 0-6.
The rivals easily got hold of his right leg. The Armenian in particular attacked his right leg at will.
That certainly worries his coach.
“There are a few areas that Bajrang needs to work on and leg defense is one of them. I have no complaints about his stamina, speed and attack. But you can give your leg so easily.”
That said, the competition at World Championships and at the Olympics is almost the same. It is heavy at 65 kg. You must have noticed that Haji Aliev (Azerbaijan) is an Olympic medalist, but returned from Belgrade empty-handed.
“Likewise, Hungary didn’t have an Olympic medal in Tokyo, but a bronze in the World Cup. But I still feel that, given the hard work he did, Bajrang should have played the final,” Mann made his point clear.
Bajrang himself seemed pleased with his performance.
“If you play offensively, you definitely have to collect a few points. If I lost points, I also scored more than I lost. You can stay defensive and not concede points, but I wanted to play attacking.”
“I realize that my movement and speed have improved and the attack has also improved. I could have played the final and that was the goal,” he said.
It is almost the end of the season for Bajrang, who is expected to participate in the World Cup in December.
Bajrang has already started training, although mat training won’t start until the cut on his head has completely healed.
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