New Delhi: Confident of securing an Olympic berth and that too with a gold-medal finish at the World Championship, star India wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt said an early qualification would give him enough time to work on increasing his stamina and experiment in the run-up to the Rio Games.
London Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar will be India's best bet at the September 7-12 World Championship in Las Vegas, USA, which will also double up as the first qualification event for the 2016 Olympics.
"I am confident of securing an Olympic quota place for India in the World Championship. An early qualification here will give me a lot of time to increase my power and work on certain areas where I need improvement. I can also do some experiments during the next one year and see where I stand," Yogeshwar told PTI.
The London Olympic bronze medallist, though, added that staying injury-free in the next one year would be his biggest challenge.
"I have had a number of operations in the past, so my main concern will be to stay fit and injury free in the next one year," Yogeshwar said.
The 32-year-old grappler said he recently sustained a knee injury, but has fully recovered now.
"I am very prone to injuries and that is one area where I have to be extremely careful. I recently suffered a knee injury but got the required treatment, and now I am fully fit and raring to go," he revealed.
The top six positions in each category will ensure an Olympic berth for a country and Yogeshwar said unless something goes drastically wrong, he would successfully secure a berth for India in men's freestyle 65kg weight division.
Having won gold in all the tournaments he has taken part in more than a year now after moving up to 65kg division from 60kg, Yogeshwar said his sole focus would be on bagging a gold at the World Championship.
"I am extremely hopeful and confident of winning a gold medal this time. This is the only major tournament where the yellow metal has eluded me so far. I don't aim for anything less than a gold in any tournament, and this time also it will be no different.
"Although in every tournament, things have to fall in place but from my side, I am determined to give 100 per cent, and more so because this event serves as the first qualification for the Olympics," Yogeshwar, who will spearhead the Indian attack in Las Vegas in the absence of double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, said.
Planning to leave for the USA after August 29, following his friend and colleague Bajrang's Arjuna award ceremony, Yogeshwar said he was confident of getting used to the time difference and acclimatise well before his bout, which is scheduled to be held on September 10.
"You need to get adjusted to the time difference, weather, etc. there. It is always ideal if one gets 15-20 days before the tournament.
"I will have about 10 days before my bout on September 10. It would take about 5-6 days to get adjusted to the time.
After that also I will have almost 3-4 days to practice. So, despite less time, I am confident of getting acclimatised and put my best foot forward," Yogeshwar insisted.
Asked how many medals he is expecting the men's freestyle team to achieve, Yogeshwar said: "It depends a lot on how one's bout goes on that particular day, but if things go as per plan, then we should certainly get 2-3 medals out of total eight wrestlers. We have high expectations from Amit Kumar, Bajrang and Narsingh Yadav."