Source : The Times of India, Last updated : 21 May 2020,12:34 pm

How to handle Olympic pressure: Olympic-bound wrestler Ravi Dahiya taking tips from Sushil Kumar

How to handle Olympic pressure: Olympic-bound wrestler Ravi Dahiya taking tips from Sushil Kumar
NEW DELHI: The chants of ‘Ravi, Ravi’ still reverberates after he clinched the gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championship in February earlier this year still reverberates in the ears of wrestler Ravi Dahiya.

He claimed the top honours in the coveted event and according to him he knows how to handle pressure in crunch games thanks to the tips he received from legendary wrestler and two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar.

Ravi, who outclassed Tajikistan's Vohidov Hikmatullo by technical superiority 10-0 in the 57kg title clash at the KD Jadhav Hall of the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi in February, currently trains alongside Sushil amid the lockdown at the Chhatrasal stadium in the capital. Apart from training, the Olympic-bound wrestler Ravi is trying to take a leaf out of Sushil’s Olympic-glory hand book.

"I am maintaining proper social distancing during training. We are almost 11 to 12 wrestlers, including juniors, who train at one time. My senior and two-time Olympic medallist Sushil bhaisaab also joins me during training. It is a privilege to train alongside him. He comes in the mornings and evenings," Ravi told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.

"He always tells me that the lockdown will be there, but you don’t have to skip your training. Go and train alone and follow your routine," Ravi said.

What is Olympic pressure?

This question was on the 57 kg freestyle wrestler's mind for months and now he has got the chance to ask the dual Olympic medallist about that. Sushil won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then claimed a silver at the 2012 London Games.

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"He is a legend of the game. It is not easy being an Olympic medallist. And he has two Olympic medals to his name. He is my inspiration and I have learnt a lot from him. The best thing I learnt from him is discipline – both on and off the mat. He always says when you are training, just train and when you are having fun, just have fun. He wants me to give my 100 percent to whatever I am doing. He puts a lot of emphasis on discipline, hard work and dedication. He also describes what Olympic pressure really is. He says, treat every day as equally important in your life. If you train hard, be disciplined and follow your routine religiously, then nothing is difficult," the 22-year-old told TimesofIndia.com.

"I was a kid when he (Sushil) won an Olympic medal. Since he is a two-time Olympic medallist, he never misses his training. I have seen him coming in at 12 in the night from his meetings, but he will train and only then go to sleep. That's the dedication I have seen in him. And that’s what I have learnt from him. These days I meet him in the morning and evening during training. After training, he gives me tips. He says only one thing - keep working hard, God is there to give you what you deserve," the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist said.

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ravi, who won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships in Nur Sultan to book his ticket for the Games, sees the one-year gap as a positive and wants to work on his leg defense in the extra time.

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"I am young and I know I have to go a long way. I have to work hard regularly. I was prepared for the Olympics but since it is postponed, I am happy about that as well. I respect the decision. I have more time to prepare myself and correct what I am doing wrong. After the lockdown is over, I will have to follow more training modules. I will have to prepare for the tournaments, scheduled before the Olympics. I am taking this postponement as a positive," he said.

"The only thing I am working on right now is my leg defense. I want to make that part (leg defense) as strong as possible. Since, I have time now, I am working more and more on this part during my training," the Indian wrestler said.

Indian wrestlers have won 5 medals in Olympic history. KD Jadhav (bronze in 1952 Helsinki Games), Sushil (bronze in 2008 Beijing Games), Sushil (silver in 2012 London Games), Yogeshwar Dutt (bronze in 2012 London Games) and Sakshi Malik (bronze in 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games) are the wrestlers who have brought home the big prize - an Olympic medal in wrestling for the country.


Ravi, who is considered to be a medal contender at the Tokyo Games, is now also eyeing the big prize at the mega event. Ravi is among four Indian wrestlers who have booked a quota place for the Tokyo Olympics so far. The other three are Deepak Punia (86kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Vinesh Phogat (53kg).


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"When you go out and play a bout, you always want to give something back to the country. Because the country has given you a lot. I will also go with the same aim – to win a medal. The best thing is that I take it one bout at a time. I don’t think about the final. If I am playing the first round, I will focus on that. If I am in the final, then I will target the gold. Not just fans, my friends and family members also expect me to win a medal, especially gold, when I hit the mat in a tournament. It feels good when I can live up to everyone's expectations," he said.


"Every athlete who represents his country, goes to the Olympics to win a medal. I also want to win an Olympic gold for my country. I have trained hard and will continue putting in hard work for the big tournament. I know there are a lot of expectations from me," Ravi signed off.


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