India's wrestling star Bajrang Punia and his longtime coach Shako Bentinidis of Georgia have parted ways months before the start of the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
According to a report in The Tribune, the relationship between Punia and Bentinidis suffered quite a lot in recent times and finally, the Indian wrestler has taken the decision to replace Bentinidis.
Bajrang, the world No 1 in the 65kg category, is one of the country's best bets to win a medal at next year's Tokyo Olympics. With just nine months remaining for the Tokyo Games, the 25-year-old wrestler and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) have to quickly find a replacement.
The report also states that Cuba's Yandro Miguel Quintana, winner of the 60kg gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, is the favourite to replace Bentinidis. The final decision on coach replacement has not been taken yet because Punia is also interested in getting the services of Soslan Ramonov of Russia, who won the gold medal in 65kg at the Rio Olympics.
On Monday, when WrestlingTV had asked Punia about his future with coach Bentinidis, the wrestler had neither confirmed nor denied about the split. He was quoted as saying, "The picture will be clear in the next few days. It is inappropriate to speak anything at this stage. I have full faith in the Wrestling Federation. We will take the best decision in the interest of the country.”
It has been reported that Bentinidis had a fractious relationship with the WFI. On numerous occasions, Bentinidis had embarrassed both WFI and Punia. The board had also received many complaints about Bentinidis' anger and rude behaviour from other coaches.
WFI was also unhappy with Bentinidis' wrong call during Punia's semi-final bout at the recent World Championships in Nur-Sultan. Punia had to settle for a bronze at World Championships when he lost semi-final match against Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekov. In the match, Bentinidis had challenged the judge's decision to give Niyazbekov four points after a move from Punia. But the decision stayed and Punia had to concede a point. The tie ended at 9-9 but Niyazbekov was declared winner on tie-breaker rules.
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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2019 15:45:42 IST