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Monday, April 15, 2024

Dahiya is the centre of attention as he pursues gold in the Worlds

The expectation is at an all-time high as Ravi Dahiya gets ready to take centre stage at the World Championships in Belgrade this week. The Olympic silver medalist from Tokyo has his sights set on a global championship, and anything less will not do. The stakes are definitely high. No Indian has won a world championship before Sushil Kumar in 2010.

Bajrang Punia competed in the Worlds twice (in 2018 and 2019), but even at the height of his abilities, he came in second behind Takuto Otoguro of Japan (16-9) in a thrilling final in Budapest in 2018. In light of his battles with injuries following his bronze medal in Tokyo. Punia will be content with a medal this time, regardless of colour.

Contrarily, Dahiya has been unstoppable since Tokyo, where even the glimmer of an Olympic silver medal was insufficient to soothe his pain at losing a gold medal. Dahiya was inconsolable following her 7-4 defeat against Zaur Uguev. Since then, he has used the discomfort to triumph at both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Asian Championships in Ulaanbaatar.

Dahiya’s style has only ever remained consistent in his relentlessness. Both at the Olympics and even today, we can see that. He can never be written off, and once he gets rolling, he has the ability to make things happen rapidly. Dahiya gives his opponents absolutely no time, thus even a close match quickly devolves into a lopsided struggle.

Coach Vinod Kumar, who has witnessed Dahiya’s development since his early years at the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi, believes that Dahiya has been “extremely dedicated and serious” in his pursuit of a world championship.

Sushil Kumar’s assistant coach, Kumar, says Dahiya shares his desire for a significant medal.

“Ravi has excellent endurance and stamina, and he depletes his opponent’s energy. He snaps, pulls, drives, and never quits wrestling, according to Kumar, who was also in Dahiya’s corner at the Commonwealth Games.

“The only issue is that he struggles to keep his weight on. He can’t fight at his desired weight of 61 kg. It is not an Olympic discipline. It’s a struggle for him every time he has to lose weight to keep his strength and power, he says.

For the same reason, Dahiya had participated in the 61 kg division at the Ranking Series in Istanbul at the beginning of the season, when Gulomjon Abdullaev (UZB) gave him a hard time in the championship match. At the Asian Championships, Dahiya switched back to 57 kg and won his third straight Asian championship with a masterful performance. For Dahiya, winning the gold at the Commonwealth Games was simple. Dahiya didn’t waste any time in leaving for a month-long training camp in Russia to be ready for the Worlds.

He has made the decision to alternate between 61 kg and 57 kg up till the Olympics in Paris. He will compete at the lighter weight for major championships and would rather compete at the heavier weight in lesser meetings. In doing so, he will spare his body from physical stress.

Zaur Uguev, Dahiya’s adversary, won’t be present in Belgrade. He was narrowly defeated by the Russian in the Olympic final and both 2019 world semifinals. The current world champion and Olympic bronze medalist from the United States, Thomas Gilman, will compete alongside Iranian silver medalist Alireza Sarlask.

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