In 2007, an 11-year-old boy from a small village Nahri in the Sonipat district, Haryana entered Chhatrasal Stadium, Delhi with dreams to represent India. In 2021, the boy is now Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Kumar Dahiya and the story behind his medal is just inspiration for the nation. In an exclusive interview with PBNS, Dahiya shared his experience and stories that have made him an idol to the young wrestlers in India.
Ravi’s father used to carry Milk, Butter, Ghee daily in the morning from the village
Ravi was not much fascinated by wrestling in his childhood, but his father, Rakesh Dahiya was a wrestling enthusiast. “ I used to play Khushi in the village and from there I generated interest in wrestling,” said Ravi. Rakesh Dahiya (Ravi’s father) always wanted his son to make the country proud.
Rakesh took Ravi to Hansraj Ji, a formal student of Chhatrasal stadium. Seeing Ravi’s interest in the sport and his talent, Hansraj, and Rakesh decided to put Ravi in the Chhatrasal stadium for further training. Rakesh Dahiya has played a pivotal role in Ravi’s career. The 23-year old, Ravi told “My father use to carry Milk, Butter, Ghee, and other stuff daily in the morning from the village and his 12 years of daily struggle has been a crucial part of my life”
Sushil Kumar’s Bonze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics became an inspiration to Ravi
After spending some time in Chhatrasal Stadium, Ravi slowly grasped the nuances of wrestling. ‘But when Sushil Kumar won the bronze in Beijing, it was a life-changing moment,’ said Dahiya.
Ravi shared, “At that time I thought that if I will also do the same for the country, I will also receive the same amount of love from the nation and seeing seniors putting the hard work I also started doing the same.”
Ravi Dahiya’s slow and steady career
In the initial years of wrestling, Ravi was struggling but his first medal came in the National School Games and from there Dahiya never looked back. From 2013, he started making his presence in international competitions.
Sub-Junior Asian Championship was the first international tournament for Ravi, where he won a silver for India. In 2014, Ravi played in the World Championship but was unable to secure a podium finish. In 2015, Dahiya won gold in Junior Asian Championship followed by silver in the Junior World Championship.
Towards the end of 2015, Ravi was injured and he took almost 2.5 years to bounce back from the injury. In 2018, Ravi came back from injury to participate in the World U-23 World Championship where he won a Silver.
Dahiya earned his ticket for Tokyo in the year 2019, where he won a Bronze in his maiden Senior World Championship. From there he reached the Olympic Podium, winning Silver at Tokyo in the 57 kg Freestyle Wrestling.
Dahiya during the Covid pandemic
Initially, due to the pandemic, Tokyo Olympics were postponed but at the same time, it was also being speculated that the games might be canceled. Ravi said, “ My coaches and friends told me that if by any chance the games did not happen, you should not lose hope as it is your maiden games and you can aim for next year’s Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and 2024 Paris Olympics.”
Dahiya received all the support from his coaches and friends during the pandemic and he was also allowed in the stadium to train along with very few athletes. All the necessary measures were taken to ensure the safety of the athletes. And finally, in 2021, Tokyo happened, and Ravi Kumar Dahiya scripted history.