Mental barrier broken and internal monsters defeated, Bajrang Poonia ready to abandon defensive approach


It’s 8 a.m. and one by one, all the wrestlers leave the training hall after a regular 90-minute session. But not Bajrang Poonia.

Sweat-soaked, Bajrang prepares for a ‘plymetric’ workout and slogs for another 45 minutes. Athletes use a variety of speed and force of movement to build muscle strength through plyometric workouts.

His new energy and enthusiasm comes from the encouraging results of some of the tests he took – Technobody Assessment, Functional Movement Screening Body Composition Analysis and Vo2max.

There is nothing wrong with his body, these tests confirm and help get rid of the “mental barrier” that the Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist wore a straight jacket on the mat.

This mental retardation has led him to take an over-defensive approach since he suffered a knee injury before the Tokyo Games last year.

He appeared in CWG trials in New Delhi and almost succeeded in defeating his compatriots. A few days later, he participated in the Bolat Turlikhanov Cup in Almaty and lost a match – against Uzbekistan’s Abbos Rakhmonov – who was in his grip.

All this due to his defensive tactics, he provoked speculation that Bajrang had passed through his main body. Bajrang himself began to doubt his worthiness.

“I told my coach I would attack more and play in my old style but the body did not support me in Almaty. There is no shortage of effort, I was actually making extra efforts but could not get performance and results, ”Bajrang told PTI in an interview.

“Sometimes I thought I would never be able to repeat that great performance. I felt my body slow down. There was something wrong with my body and it was constantly playing in my mind, “he shared his doubts.

But he is quick to point out that he has overcome that self-doubt.

“Now I think my best is yet to come and you will see.”

“After returning from Kazakhstan, on the advice of my physio Anand Dubey, I underwent some medical tests to assess strength, speed, body balance, stamina and endurance. The results are ‘super’ if not excellent.

“After seeing encouraging test results, I analyzed that I was doing better in training. Maybe there was a mental barrier. It’s broken. “

Bajrang says that if the mind gets overwhelmed or the fear of injury catches the mind, even an athlete of his ability can start doubting himself.

The 28-year-old has won a podium finish in every tournament he has played in the last five years. But it didn’t matter.

“I was upset, I know the media was calling me anxiously (in Russia), but I didn’t need the media at the time but I needed rehabilitation. There was more stress on the left knee due to injury to the right knee.

“I didn’t have a physio and I was doing rehab on my own after the Olympics. I trained for 8-10 days and re-injured my right knee. Fear of re-injury stuck in my mind, it crippled me, my tendency to attack.

His physio Anand said, “In order to clear that mental barrier, it has become imperative to undergo these tests. He was playing a defensive game. He was struggling with speed, which was resolved because he was playing a defensive game. If he goes for his natural attack game, the speed will automatically return. That is his weapon. “

Bajrang is relieved.

“I am experiencing change, it was all in my mind. I attack more now. There is no reason to be afraid. ”

Bajrang has not only gained confidence. It is also a ‘desi’ style of training. When he trained under Georgian coach Shako Bentinidis, Matt’s training was a priority in everything but now he is back in the Indian style, where ‘akhada’ must be prepared to add strength to the body.

“Shako (Bentinidis) never likes Suhagi, Utk Betak (sitting), ‘Palti’. I have been doing these things since I was a child. These are important exercises because you need to use strength from ankle to head. It’s like doing ‘cardio’.

“You also have good endurance of your back, arms, muscles because you repeat it frequently. This is not an easy task, you need to set up a good soil, and mix turmeric, oil, henna to keep the soil soft. I have never seen all this. Now I have started doing it again. I do it twice a week.

“Shako was a different and super coach. But his methods were different, for him mat training was paramount. You start training off the mat and finish on the mat. “

There is no satisfaction

Bajrang categorically rejected the suggestion that perhaps being satisfied with the good results he had achieved could play a role in slowing him down.

“I am not a person blessed with talent. If I have any talent, it is hard work. Everything I have achieved is due to hard work. I know what my fight is. I am not satisfied.

“The day I stop working hard, Bajrang will start falling. If I can’t do everything I need to do, I’ll take it, I’ll be satisfied. There will be no regrets, but not working hard is not an option for me. ”

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