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Who is Bajrang Punia's coach Shako Bentinidis?

India's top wrestler Bajrang Punia will make his maiden Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020.
By Samrat Chakraborty

Bajrang Punia will have his task cut out at Tokyo 2020, slated to get underway from July 23, as he will represent India in the highly competitive men's 65 kg category.

The Haryana-wrestler has been seeded second behind Russia's Rashidov Gadzhimurad. It also makes him one of the four Indian wrestlers to be seeded for Tokyo 2020.

Punia has a strong chance of returning with a medal from the upcoming Olympic Games. He is, thus, sweating it out at Vladikavkaz in Russia under the watchful eyes of his Georgian coach Shako Bentinidis.

Bentinidis has been constantly working on improving Punia's technique. His experience has largely benefited the Indian wrestler. Let us know more about him ahead of the Games:

Bajrang Punia with coach Emzarios Shako Bendinitis

Who is Bajrang Punia's coach Shako Bentinidis?

Bentinidis is a three-time Olympian and shares a father-son like bond with Punia. The experienced Bentinidis ensures that the 27-year-old wrestler doesn't miss out on his training regime.

The Georgian knew the importance of training in the final year ahead of the Olympics and thus took support of technology to guide him. Bentinidis would assist Punia through video calls, e-mails and phone calls while he was stationed in Georgia last year amidst the outbreak of Covid-19. He also gave equal importance to Punia's physical and psychological training.

The former European Champion in the 69 kg category has assessed Punia's strengths and weaknesses and observed that Punia can acclimatize quickly to any condition or situation but his leg defence technique is faulty. It is an area that Bentinidis will be working on in Punia's final months of training in Russia.

"He (Punia) has been improving that (leg defence technique). With better sparring partners in Russia, we are sure to improve further,” the coach told Sportskeeda.

Punia sparred with the 2019 World Champion in the 70 kg category, David Baev, in Russia. It helped him polish his skills ahead of Tokyo 2020. However, his mat training was delayed as he was recovering from a knee injury, which he suffered during the semi-final bout against Russian grappler Abdulmazhid Kudiev at the Ali Aliev Memorial on June 25.

"We are working on increasing Baju’s (Bajrang) focus on the mat. While training I make him lose his concentration on purpose, but when he does, I make him repeat the entire exercise. The idea is to focus on the match and shut the outer voices,” said Bentinidis.

And now with all bases covered for Tokyo 2020, Punia will look to put his best foot forward at the Games, with not only his home fans but also the Georgians rooting for him, thanks to his coach and father-like figure Bentinidis.