The post read: Mein apne sabhi social media handles ko aaj se band kar raha hu. Ab Olympic ke baad aap sabhi se mulaakaat hogi … ummeed karta hu aap apna pyaar banaye rakhenge ….. jai Hind (sic) (I will be shutting all my social media handles starting from today. Now I will meet all of you after the Olympics…. I hope you will continue to shower me with your love….. Jai Hind).”
Mein apne sabhi social media handles ko aaj se band kar raha hu. Ab Olympic ke baad aap sabhi se mulaakaat hogi ..… https://t.co/mFzuknCctY
— Bajrang Punia 🇮🇳 (@BajrangPunia) 1614579504000
As soon the post went viral, Bajrang’s original threads on three social media platforms were flooded with messages of success and encouragement, with thousands of his followers lauding his mental strength and single-minded determination in shunning the social media fixation for Olympic glory at the Tokyo Games. “It (decision) was tough but isn’t something I haven’t done before. In the pursuit of an Olympic gold, you make such small sacrifices. Nothing else matters when it comes to the Olympics. For the next five months, I will be staying off all kinds of social media distractions to pursue my dream of winning a gold for India,” Bajrang told TOI in an interview. The wrestler has been quite active on social media and often posts his views and opinions on twitter and facebook about current political issues.
“Previously also, when preparing for important international events, I kept myself away from using the phone for posting on social media platforms, including during the time of the Rio Olympics (in 2016). Earlier, it used to be for a month or two. But this time is the longest…for five straight months. Today was my last tweet, instagram and facebook post until Tokyo. I don’t want any distraction,” he added.
So, does Bajrang believe that social media indeed is a distraction? “Yes, I agree to some extent. It kind of affects an athlete’s psyche when some comments turn nasty. Sometimes, people don’t take your views kindly and react in a cruel way. That time, an athlete’s mind gets disturbed. So, when you are preparing for an important tournament like the Olympics, your focus should only be on winning the gold. It’s important to cut yourself out from the outside world. But, having said that, I also believe that the social media is an important tool to reach out to people with your views and opinion, while enhancing your knowledge base with current news at the same time. But, for now, no more social media outing till the Olympics,” said the 27-year-old, who will be next seen in action at the UWW ranking series event – Matteo Pellicone in Italy beginning Thursday.
Back in 2008, Bajrang, then a young grappler learning the nuances of the sport under 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt’s tutelage, had stayed away from his mobile phone for almost a decade until 2017 to avoid any kind of distraction. It was only when Dutt retired in 2017 that Bajrang sought his permission to keep the mobile with him and use social media platforms.
In 2016, badminton star PV Sindhu had revealed that she did not use her mobile phone in the run up to the Rio Olympics on the advice of coach Pullela Gopichand. Sindhu went on to win the silver at the Games.