Indian wrestler and Olympic medallist, Bajrang Punia is set to miss the upcoming 2022 National Games in Gujarat. The reason behind Punia’s decision is his head injury which he sustained during the recent 2022 World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.
Bajrang Punia suffered the injury during his quarterfinal match against Cuban Alejandro Valdes Tobier in the World Championships. After the loss, the 28-year-old went on to win the bronze medal in men's 65kg freestyle with a deep cut on his skull.
While talking to the Times of India, Punia addressed his decision to pull out of the tournament and said, "I won't be competing at the National Games due to my head injury. It's unfortunate that it has happened so close to the event. The cut is fresh and will take time to heal."
Looking back at the injury, Bajrang Punia had raised concerns regarding his wound’s treatment at the World Championships. While speaking to PTI, Punia expressed that the on-spot doctors’ decision to use ‘rigid tape’ caused a lot of irritation and loss of concentration in the bout.
“God knows why they did that? It caused irritation because my hair was getting pulled as it had stuck on my head. They did not even put cotton on the wound and directly applied the tape. I had to cut my hair from a certain spots to get rid of that. It took me almost 20 minutes to remove that”, he added.
“Instead of devising a strategy against the American, me and my team was jostling to get that tape removed from my head. All I had about 20-25 minutes before I clashed with the American and all of that time was lost,” the 28-year-old further expressed.
Bajrang's personal physio, Dr Anand Dubey said that ideally the doctors should have opted for a cohesive tape. “The rigid tape can actually cause skull swelling because even a gentle touch would cause irritation and pull the hair. You know how wrestlers keep putting their hands on rival’s head. So we decided to remove that and applied a cohesive tape,” explained Dubey.
Notably, the 36th edition of the National Games is scheduled to commence on 27 September in Gujarat with 10 October being the last day for the tournament.