For Ravi Dahiya, whose life revolves around wrestling, Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi is home away from home. In fact, Dahiya spends most part of the year in the precincts of Chhatrasal and visits his home very rarely — perhaps once in a year, during Diwali.
So, when the government gave a call for self-isolation at home to fight coronavirus, Dahiya — who shifted from his village in Sonepat district of Haryana to Chhatrasal at the age of 10 — did not have to think twice.
“I thought, since there was not much time in hand, I should focus on my preparations. I can go home later on after the Olympics,” said the World Championships bronze medallist and the Asian champion in the men’s 57kg weight class.
Despite the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Dahiya sounded positive.
“Nobody knows when the Olympics will take place. It is not in our hands. God knows when it will happen and how it will happen. But it will happen for sure. I hope everything will be alright. I am just concentrating on my training,” said Dahiya.
The fire in his belly does not let Dahiya sit quietly. As a junior wrestler, he has seen hard days and is eager to prove himself at the highest level.
“In those days there was no sponsor and I had to fall back on some of my well-wishers to recover from my knee injury. It was a struggle. I was frustrated due to the uncertainty (related to my recovery). Good that the days of struggle are gone now,” an emotional Dahiya had told this reporter sometime back.
Dahiya, who secured a world under-23 silver medal in 2018, hogged the limelight with a series of sterling performances for champion side Haryana Hammers in the 2019 Pro Wrestling League. He continued to raise his game and emerge as the No. 1 wrestler in the country in the competitive 57kg category.
Considering his dedication and improvement, it was only natural that he impressed one and all with his bronze medal winning performance in the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, where he also secured an Olympic quota place, in September last year.
Dahiya, who had lost in a bronze medal match in the Asian Championships in Xi’an in 2019, made amends to take the title in the continental event in Delhi in February last.
“After the World Championships bronze medal, I emerged as the champion in the Asian championships. My performances have boosted my confidence a lot,” said Dahiya, looking back at his short journey.
A big fan of his mentor and two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, Dahiya — who is considered a top contender for a medal from the wrestling mats of the Tokyo Games — is not resting on past laurels. His next goal is an Olympics medal and he is leaving no stone unturned to achieve this.
“There is not a particular area on which I have to work on. I need to improve in different areas, such as leg defence and counterattack.”
For this, training is paramount for Dahiya. Even the coronavirus threat cannot deter him.
“There are issues, but those have not affected my training. Sparring is going on. Three-four wrestlers are there in the Chhatrasal Stadium, we are doing our daily training. There are wrestlers of different weights, I am sparring with them. So, my training is not affected.”
Dahiya, like Sushil, loves to learn by watching others in action. “I am watching the videos of my opponents to learn a few things and know about their weaknesses.”
Dahiya, however, is missing his room partner Deepak Punia, who had bagged the silver medal in 86kg category alongside Dahiya at the World Championships apart from securing an Olympics berth. “Deepak had gone to meet his family for some work. He has not been able to return.”
Nevertheless, Dahiya has been behaving responsibly in the time of crisis. “One has to adjust a little bit in such a situation. We are taking all sorts of precaution. We are not going out, not meeting outsiders, washing hands and maintaining good hygiene.”
For younger wrestlers looking up to him, Dahiya has some advices to fight the deadly virus which is wreaking havoc worldwide.
“The government is doing so much to stop this virus from spreading. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji has sent out a message for every countryman about what one should do and what one should not do in the fight against corona.
“We should follow these advices without panicking about the virus. No need to fear. If we remain careful, then we will win this fight against corona,” said Dahiya, with a sense of responsibility.
- Vijay Hazare Trophy 2023 LIVE Score, Round 4: Toss updates; Mumbai faces Pondicherry, TN vs Baroda; Bengal meets MP
- Champions League 2023-24: Atletico beats Feyenoord 3-1 to reach knockouts
- Champions League 2023-24: Last-gasp Mbappe penalty earns PSG 1-1 draw with Newcastle
- Champions League 2023-24: Manchester City claims top spot after recovering to beat Leipzig 3-2
- Champions League 2023-24: Barcelona beats Porto 2-1, returns to knockout stage