Gracious in defeat, young Indian wrestler Ravi Dahiya on Thursday said perhaps he deserved only a silver medal at the Olympics at this stage and will strive to get better to complete the unfinished task of winning a gold at the 2024 Paris Games.
In an exclusive interview with PTI after his 57kg final, the 23-year-old Dahiya said a silver medal will never give him satisfaction even though his performance would mean a lot for Indian wrestling.
“I did not come to Tokyo for a silver medal. It will not give me satisfaction. Maybe this time I deserved only a silver because Uguev was a better wrestler today,” Dahiya said from the Japanese capital.
“I could not achieve what I wanted to,” he said, disappointment palpable in his voice.
Dahiya tried every trick to breach the defence of world champion Zavur Uguev but the Russian wrestler stayed solid in his defence, never allowing the Indian to launch his famously relentless attacks.
“His style was very good. I just could not find a way to play my game. I don’t know what I could have done. He wrestled very smartly,” the two-time reigning Asian champion said.
His coach Mahabali Satpal said Dahiya was fighting from the front and the coaches in Tokyo should have advised him to wrestle from the sides.
“The coaches (Jagmander Singh) there should have told him to change the strategy. The Russian was beatable, Ravi is a better wrestler than him, it’s a golden chance that has been missed for a historic gold,” rued Satpal, who has coached Dahiya since he was 12.
When told that his silver-winning effort also means a lot to Indian wrestling, Dahiya did not seem excited. “Wo to theek hai but I can’t sit on a silver. I have to stay focussed and work on my technique and get ready for next Olympics Games,” he said.
His father Rakesh and his family have made a lot of sacrifices to get him to this stage. Rakesh still works on leased fields to run the household.
A windfall awaits as Haryana government has announced a R 4 crore cash award for him Dahiya said he was not thinking about money as all he is concerned about is winning an Olympic gold.
Also, Dahiya said he won’t pressurise his father to quit his agricultural job. “He feels happy by working. It is up to him, if he wants to rest or not. I won’t put any pressure on him,” he said.
His village Nahri had been waiting for an Olympic medal, hoping that it will change the destiny of its habitants. Dahiya said his village deserved transformation.
“Yes, my village has given three Olympians to India, so it deserves basic facilities. I can’t priortise what it needs first. It needs everything. Everything is important, good schools as well as sports facilities,” he said.
Nahri, about 65km from New Delhi, does not get regular electricity and potable water and does not have a proper sports facility. Despite this, three Olympians have emerged from the village — Mahavir Singh, Amit Dahiya and now Ravi, who is now an Olmpic medallist too.