Parading accused wrong: Lawyer

The first thing that Ravinder Kumar did after securing the 61 kg silver medal in the u-23 World Wrestling Championship in Budapest was to call his father. He wanted to remind him of the loan installment that was due. Ravinder’s two knee operations had resulted in the family borrowing Rs 6 lakh three years back. Since then the young wrestler had been very particular about paying the EMI on time.

Father Satpal spoke about the pressures his son had to deal with. “When he injured his knee in 2016, I had to take a loan of Rs 2 lakh from the village agent. Next year he recovered and reached World Junior Championship semi-final and we thought things would be fine now. But again he was injured and he took another loan of Rs 4 lakh,” he says. “He told me about the medal after mentioning the EMI.”

Very early in life, Ravinder joined his coach Naresh Dahiya’s academy where his cousins Sanjay and Pradeep used to train. The Haryana wrestler would win the School Nationals gold in 2013 before winning a bronze in the 2013 Asian Cadet Championships. The following year saw Ravinder secure the Senior Nationals silver, where he lost to Sandeep Tomar.

“Like any youngster, Ravinder would not spend much time in training. He was very mischievous. He loved ice-cream. But slowly his interest in wrestling grew. When I would tell him to do 100 sit-ups, he would do 200 and that was his main strength. When he lost the final against Tomar in senior nationals in 2015, he was disappointed but I knew this boy was special,” recalls 50-year-old Dahiya.

In 2016, Ravinder suffered an injury on his left knee, for which he underwent an operation in Mumbai but the youngster made the comeback to reach the quarter-finals in inaugural edition of World U-23 Championships apart from reaching the semis of World Junior Championships in 2017.

He was also selected for the Indian team for Asian Wrestling Championships the same year but suffered an ACL injury on his right knee. “When I got injured before the Asian Senior Wrestling Championships, I only thought about missing my chance for the initial days. After the operation, spending time at home was the most difficult part for me. I had been training in Delhi since I was 12 and most of the friends and neighbors would ask me about the injury. I could do nothing. I would watch videos of two-time world champion Reza Zazhdani, Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs and Russian Gadzhimurad Rashidov and observe their moves and imitate those moves in my mind,” says Ravinder, who is a Corporal in Indian Air Force.

New training regimen

Coach Dahiya also came up with a new training regime for the youngster. “While he was technically strong, we did not want to put him under any pressure. But I insisted he did the rope climbing without using his leg support which made his upper body strong and it gives him a lot of strength in moves,” says Dahiya.

Ravinder became the fifth Indian wrestler to win a medal in the world U-23 Championships in its three years history. Ravinder was trailing by 1-3 before making a comeback to make it 3-4 in the last minute of the final before an unsuccessful India challenge resulting in 3-5 loss. Ravinder had defeated European champion Arsen Harutyunan of Armenia 4-3 in the semi-finals, a bout where Ravinder was trailing 0-3.

“I knew that he likes to attack leg initially and I got bit confused initially. Thoda sa time laga read karne main aur wahi galti se gold medal reh gaya (I took time to formulate my strategy and hence lost out on a medal. But the medal has come after a long time and it’s like a new beginning for me. I had watched Ravi Dahiya’s bout against the Harutyunan in World Championships last month earlier and I knew that I can catch with my speed. I used the move called Dunga, going for his rib area and it worked for me. After getting injured on both my knees earlier in my career, I would hesitate a bit initially after my recovery period in my moves but the training in the last one year has made me realise that if it has to happen, it will happen. My aim is to give my best and I am happy that I could do that here, “ said Ravinder.