Happy with bronze for now, but want a gold at Olympics: Dahiya
New Delhi: Ravi Kumar Dahiya is happy with the bronze medal he has won at the recently concluded wrestling World Championships. But the 22-year-old, who beat Iranian Asian champion Reza Atrinagharchi in the 57kg men's Freestyle bronze medal match in Nur-Sultan last week, said that there are a lot of improvements he needs to make and the fact that he confirmed a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the Worlds itself gives him the necessary time to do so.
"I had gone into the World Championships wanting to qualify (for the Olympics) with a medal. I am happy that I won a bronze for now, but going forward I want to do better," Dahiya told IANS.
He was in New Delhi with fellow World Championships medallists Bajrang Punia (bronze 65kg), Vinesh Phogat (bronze 50kg), Deepak Punia (silver 86kg) and Rahul Aware (bronze 61kg).
It was a two-point gap that cost Dahiya his semi-final bout against Russian Zaur Uguev, the defending champion who went on to win a second consecutive gold. He may have won a medal anyway, in what was his first appearance at the senior World Championships but Dahiya, a product of the renowned Chhatrsal Stadium in New Delhi which has spawned Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, believes that he is nowhere close to being a finished product.
"There are many places I can improve upon. Ek cheez nai bohot saari hai. I need to work on my defence, work on a few moves -- there are a lot of things to improve on. Right now I am nowhere yet," he said with a weary chuckle. "A lot of big wrestlers were there. In my weight there are about eight or ten wrestlers on whom we always keep an eye. Just as I am sure how they would be doing for me. Watching them helps me evaluate where I stand and how my preparations are going."
Dahiya may be trying to make sure that he keeps his eye in the game and not get carried away by the medal but those that know him don't need to be bound by such responsibilities. The wrestlers arrived in New Delhi from Kazakhstan at around midnight on Tuesday and received a warm welcome from a crowd that was a mix of people from their village, their academies alongwith families and friends. "My relatives were there, there were people from my village, there were a few from Chhatrasal as well," he said.
The four bronze and one silver that the grapplers won in Nur-Sultan 2019 makes it the most successful World Championships for India in the history of the tournament. Dahiya said that the contingent's performances have not gone unnoticed. "You could hear people talking about Indian wrestlers and how well we were doing in these tournaments," he said.
Dahiya has his eyes now set upon 2020 Tokyo. "I will be spending a few days in Chhatrasaal. It will be upto the coaches, whichever way they think I need to train, I will do it. I might also be going to Georgia or Russia to train later on. I was aware that if I manage to confirm qualification at the first attempt itself, it will give me a lot of time. Medal to jeetna hi hai, and the I hope that I bring back a gold," he said.