Shako Bentinidis to continue as Bajrang Punia’s coach until 2020 Olympics
Georgian Shako Bentinidis will continue as ace wrestler Bajrang Punia’s coach until the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While Bentinidis was earlier signed to JSW Sports as a personal trainer to Bajrang, he will now be contracted to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
Bentinidis’ status as Bajrang’s coach seemed to be on shaky grounds after the Wrestling World Championships that was held in Nur-Sultan in September. It was reported that the WFI was not happy with the Georgian and his relationship with Bajrang had also soured. However, with less than nine months to go for the Olympics, continuity seems to have taken priority over other issues and Bajrang himself requested the federation to sign Bentinidis as his coach.
“He said that there is not much time left for the Olympics so if Shako can be appointed by the federation, then please do that since his contract with JSW had ended,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told IANS.
Bentinidis’ contract with JSW had ended and it was reported that Cuban Wilfredo Garcia Quintana had been working with Bajrang on a trial basis. However, Bajrang has decided to continue with Bentinidis.
“The president (WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) told us to give the athletes whatever they ask for. We contacted Shako, he was happy with the terms we offered him and so we signed him. He will be training Bajrang while being contracted to the federation,” said Tomar.
Bajrang has been with Bentinidis for about two years now. In this time, the 24-year-old has climbed to the top of the rankings in the 65kg category while winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games, a silver at the 2018 World Championships and bronze at the 2019 Worlds. He has emerged as one of the biggest medal hopes for India going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.