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'Want youngsters to be inspired, win more medals for India': Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Ravi Kumar Dahiya - Exclusive

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 08-10-2021 Karan Prashant Saxena

Ravi Kumar Dahiya made a name for himself at the Tokyo Olympics this year when he went on to win a silver medal at the Games. The Indian wrestler reached the men's freestyle 57kg category final defeating former World Championship silver-medalist Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the semifinal, in a dramatic fashion. Ravi came back from a 2-9 deficit to win the bout by fall - creating one of the most memorable moments at the Games this year.

But he lost the final to the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) Zavur Uguev, missing out on the gold medal. Yet, the 23-year-old has inspired the nation with his silver medal win, and now he hopes more youngsters start taking up the sport to add more medals to India's tally.

Speaking in an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times, organised by Smile Foundation's 'Shikhsha Na Ruke Abhiyaan', Ravi Kumar Dahiya on the life after winning the silver medal at the Tokyo Games and his plans for the future.

Excerpts:

Q1) How has life changed since winning the silver medal in Tokyo Olympics?

"There is no change as such (laughs). But yeah, I feel immensely proud of winning the silver medal at the Tokyo Games. I feel good when people come up and shower love. So, it feels great to receive such praise from everyone."

Q2) How did your family and friends in your village welcome you after you returned from Tokyo?

"The villagers welcomed me back with great pomp and show. Everyone had gathered, and they had arranged for a lot of things, so it felt great returning back with the medal."

Q3) You expressed disappointment after losing the final in Tokyo for not being able to win gold. Do you feel better now with the silver win now seeing such a big response from the country?

"At the time, yes, I was a bit disappointed. Because we had travelled to Tokyo with big aspirations in mind of winning the gold medal. But later, when you think about it, you realise, so what if you lose one fight, I gave my all. Will try my best to change the colour of the medal next time."

Q4) How challenging was it for you to maintain the weight for the 57kg category?

"It is very challenging to maintain weight up to 57 kg. I don't even know how can I talk about it much. You have to maintain a regime for nearly two months - and have to adhere to it strictly. It is the same for every wrestler in various weight categories. You cannot even go one or two kilograms up or down. You have to train a lot for this and maintain a strict diet. There are a lot of factors associated with this. I faced troubles maintaining my weight, but troubles are a part of an athlete's life. You have to go past these."

Q5) Do you feel your medal win will inspire youngsters now to pick up the sport?

"I definitely feel youngsters will get inspired from our medal win in Tokyo. Because we too were inspired by seeing wrestlers like Sushil Kumar who came before us. I would want the same that the young wrestlers watch me and get inspired to win more medals for India."

Q6) A wrestling training center is being set up by the government in your Nahari village now. How useful will it be for the youngsters?

"The wrestling center being created at my village will definitely allow young guys to come and train for the sport. The construction for the same has already started, it will probably be completed by the next year. It will make it much more convenient for people in the village to train. And soon, you will see many more wrestlers coming from my village. I feel honoured and happy that because of my efforts, the sport of wrestling is seeing a growth in the country."

Q7) Why did you pull out of the World Championships?

"I had to pull out of the World Championship because we had been training for the past several months with a complete focus for Tokyo Olympics. After returning from there, we had to attend several government events, and then also had to spend time with family. You cannot refuse to do this. So, I stayed busy. So, I was unable to train properly - and the training for World Championships is quite rigorous. To go into the competition without proper training did not seem like a good idea to me. So, I pulled out of the competition."

Q8) So, now are you targetting the CWG and Asian Games next year, and then the 2024 Paris Olympics?

"Next year, Asian Games and CWG games will be there, so we will begin training for that. Apart from the experience we gained in Tokyo, the upcoming events in the next few years will be quite important in preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics. A lot will be dependent on how we perform in these tournaments over the next 2-3 years, and if I am able to perform consistently at my best, then I am sure, I will have a good chance of performing better in Paris. So, that is my focus at this point now."

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