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Ravi Kumar Dahiya: The wrestler’s journey from Nahri to Olympics

Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Six Sports

Tokyo Olympics was certainly the best Olympics for India in the medals tally. With Ravi Kumar Dahiya included in the wrestling department, India looked stronger as the tournament progressed.

Indian weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu gave a great start to the event, as she won the Silver medal on the second day itself. This filled everyone with the optimism that the predictions are going to be true. 

However, as the event went on many upsets occurred. Athletes like Mary Kom, Deepika Kumari, Manika Batra and Atanu Das fell short and were unable to win any medals.

On the 4th of August 2021, wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya was participating in the semi-finals 57kg men’s freestyle. Ravi was facing Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev who is Fifth-seeded in the world ranking.

Ravi defeated Sanayev and reached the finals. This win of Ravi secured a medal for India and the level the previous best medal tally of 6 medals in the Olympics.

The 23-year-old star, who hails from Nahri (Haryana), defeated Nurislam Sanayev by a fall which eventually led Ravi into the final. This win of Ravi made the India audience and Indian wrestling proud.

This article is about Ravi Kumar Dahiya: The boy from Nahri who rose to the Olympic podium.

Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Six Sports

Journey of Ravi Kumar Dahiya

Nahri: The wrestling hub of India

Nahri is a renowned Wrestling hub in the country. This village is situated in the Sonipat district of Haryana. Over the years, Nahri has given India many top class wrestlers like Tokyo Olympics Bronze medalist Bajrang Punia, the Phogat sisters,  and two time Gold medalist of Commonwealth Games Yogeshwar Dutt.

Maybe the same wrestling gene was inherited by Ravi as well. However, something that held back Ravi was the economic crisis of his family. This was the reason he was unsure of pursuing wrestling as a career.

Ravi’s father Rakesh Kumar was a farmer, but didn’t own any land. He used to rent farms for farming. Meanwhile, his mother owned a shop. Ravi helped both his parents in their work. After knowing his son’s ambition, Rakesh Kumar worked hard to build his son a professional wrestling career.

The Chhatrasal academy

Ravi joined the Chhatrasal academy. It is the same academy where legendary wrestlers like Yogeshwar Dutt and Sunil Kumar were mentored. His father brought milk and fruits in Ravi’s diet by walking 10 km everyday. 

The first major achievement came in the Junior World Championship in 2015. He competed in the 55kg freestyle event and bagged the Silver medal at Salvador de Bahia. Just before the 2017 Senior Nationals semi-finals, Ravi got a knee injury which forced him to stay away from the sport for more than a year.

However, he made a dream return to grab another Silver medal, this time in the U23 World Championship. Ravi became the only Indian in the history of the sport to win a medal in the 57kg category. He was ranked 5th in the World Rankings after the 2019 Asian Wrestling Championship.

At the age of 22, Ravi made his debut in the 2019 World Championship and caused many upsets by defeating notable names. His World Championship run was enough to ensure him a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Ravi lost to the ultimate winner Zavur Uguev of Russia in the semi-finals of the Championship. In the match of the Bronze medal, he defeated the then Asian Champion Reza Atri Nagharchi. 

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Six Sports

Ravi Kumar had a dream run in the Tokyo Olympics. He showed a dominating performance in the first two rounds. He defeated Óscar Tigreros of Colombia by a margin of 13-2 and the Bulgarian wrestler Georgi Vangelov by 14-4 with his technical superiority. The semi-finals was tough for Ravi.

He faced Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan. Ravi was behind for almost the whole match. But towards the final minutes of the match, he pinned Sanayev and unexpectedly won the match by fall. Ravi faced Russian Zavur Uguev in the final.

But Zavur was too good for Ravi, as he defeated Ravi 7-4 to win the gold. Although Ravi lost the final, it still made the whole nation proud. He became the second Indian wrestler to win an Olympic Silver medal after Sushil Kumar. 

Achievements of Ravi Kumar Dahiya

  • Bagged the Silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • Won the  Bronze medal in the World wrestling Championship in 2019.
  • Two- times Asian Champion
  • Silver medal at 2018 U23 World Championship in Bucharest

23-year-old Ravi would want to win more Gold medals for sure. Certainly he will make India proud in the coming years.

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