It seemed like the entire Chhara village of the Jhajjar district in Haryana had gathered on Monday afternoon at the New Delhi Airport. They were eagerly waiting for a confirmation by their silver-medallist boy, whether he will be able to go back to his village for an extensive celebration.
Deepak Punia, the 20-year-old new sensation in Indian wrestling, following his silver medal at the UWW World Championships, was a bit of embarrassed while speaking to The Bridge from New Delhi’s Chhatrasal Wrestling Academy.
“The villagers would have been happy if I had gone there today. They had been expecting me. But I now have to undergo a thorough treatment of my ankle injury, and then only I will go back to the village for a few weeks.”
Deepak, who became the only Indian wrestler to have reached the final of the 2019 World Championships, revealed that in spite of the rest from training for a few weeks, he would have to wake up early in the morning as usual. This is because his father Subhas Punia will be coming to Delhi every day travelling 70 kilometres from Chhara just to give his son a big jar of milk extracted from the cows of their own farm. Deepak says:
Deepak’s childhood coach, now a mentor, Arya Virender Singh Dalal recalled while speaking to The Bridge from Jhajjar, “Deepak was aggressive right from the beginning when he started wrestling at my akhara in at the age of five years. The key factor behind his aggression was Lord Hanumanji. Deepak drew the attention of wrestling fraternity for the first time at the age of 15, when he defeated Satyawart Kadian, the husband of Sakshi Malik, at a national championship. During those days he used to concentrate sitting in front of a picture Lord Hanumanji with a cudgel.”
The wrestler who works in the Indian army for the last couple of years still trains under Virender as well as Satpal Singh at Chhatrasal Wrestling Academy and Deepak did not hesitate to assert that Sushil Kumar played an important role in his wrestling career after he joined Chhatrasal in 2015. He said,
Virender says, “Deepak’s strength is his aggression and tremendous flexibility on the mat.” Still Deepak felt he needs to improve his endurance. The Junior World Champion wrestler has set his eyes on Tokyo Olympics. He dreams of a medal as his idol Sushil Kumar won his first medal in Bejing, and Deepak under the tutelage of his two coaches and with Sushil will help him earn a medal at the Olympics.