Tokyo-bound Ravi Dahiya on injury, hardships and inspirational Sushil 'pehlwan'

Ravi Dahiya thanked Sushil Kumar for inspiring him at the most crucial test of his life so far as he booked a his berth for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Indian wrestler Ravi Dahiya (57kg) shows his bronze medal after defeating Iran's Reza Ahmadali Atrinagharch at World Wrestling Championship.   -  PTI

Having his idol Sushil Kumar by his side was a huge privilege for a lesser-known Ravi Dahiya, who performed with confidence to achieve the twin target of booking an Olympic quota place, in men’s freestyle 57kg weight, and bagging a World championships medal on debut in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

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Ravi, a product of the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi, thanked Sushil for inspiring him at the most crucial test of his life so far. “Sushil pehlwan was there with me. He asked me to keep focus and give my 100 per cent. He said if I fought carefully and stuck to my game, I would be successful. Feels good to have achieved something significant,” Ravi told Sportstar.

The shy and soft-spoken World u-23 silver medallist wrestler said his effort to fine-tune his game for the World championships benefitted him. “I worked on some areas of my game like defence and counter-attack and it helped. I still have to work on these areas ahead of the Olympics. I need to give special attention to my leg defence.”

According to Ravi, who defeated European champion Arsen Harutunyan of Armenia and former world champion Yuki Takahashi in consecutive bouts to reach the semifinals, the fight against the Japanese was the toughest. “I had lost to the Japanese in the Asian championships and he had gone on to win a bronze medal. The bronze medal contest (against Asian champion Reza Atrinagharch of Iran) was not so difficult.”

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Remembering his days of struggle, when he was out of action nursing a knee injury after securing medals at in age group events at Asian level, Ravi said, “Nowadays, with Tata Motors sponsoring even the juniors, things are easier. 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. There were some frustrations due to the uncertainty (related to recovery). Good that it’s gone now.”