CHENNAI:Strong work ethics and resolve to push higher are a few attributes that help an athlete taste success. Boxer Gaurav Solanki lives by those beliefs.After a big hit at Commonwealth Games, where he won gold, Solanki continues to push further. With Asian Games being the next big challenge, Solanki is ensuring that he can make the most of his training sessions and strengthen his stance.
“The Commonwealth Games was a really good experience and I got to learn a lot. I’m now looking to build on it and gearing up for Asian Games,” Solanki, who is currently part of a national camp at JSW Sports training centre in Bellary, recalled.It’s evident that these sessions away from the spotlight are his priority now. “I try to replicate what I have learnt during training and give my 100 per cent.”
Having worked with him at close quarters, army coach CA Kuttappa is aware of Solanki’s commitment. “He is a highly determined person and works very hard. He is very keen to learn, and he goes for extra training sessions too, all by himself. He is not just following our instructions, but also learning on his own, picking up vital methods to make himself a better boxer.”Indian boxers, especially men, were exceptional in Gold Coast. After a gritty run, Solanki was a standout with his gold-medal run. His love affair with the sport began in 2011, when he joined the renowned Army Sports Institute in Pune. That’s where he got hooked to the sport, observed, cultivated knowledge and started believing in himself.
“The facilities and coaches were excellent. The atmosphere was also good. It made me a better boxer,” the 21-year-old reminisced. Now, Solanki is happy to grow under India’s Swedish high performance director Santiago Nieva. “I have learnt a great deal under him. He pushes the boxers to their limits and that has undoubtedly made me a better pugilist. He is the best coach I have worked with.”
Coaches and army facilities would have no doubt lifted him, but Solanki could not have come this far without the support of his family. He has his roots in Ballabhgarh village in Faridabad district in Haryana, where his father works as an electrician. “My family is not that strong financially. My mother has never played any sport, and does not have much knowledge about boxing. However, that has not stopped her from providing for me,” he said.
Their faith has paid off, as Solanki was included in the Target Olympic Podium scheme (TOPs) after the CWG. His talent has also prompted Olympic Gold Quest to back him.The fact that there is healthy competition within the camp in Solanki’s weight category has also spurred him. There are other talented boxers like Kavinder Singh Bisht, Salman Shaikh and Sachin Siwach, who recently joined the senior ranks. Famed boxer L Devendro Singh is out of the equation now.
“Everyone is almost equal. Sometimes, it is difficult to ascertain who won during sparring sessions at our camp.They know each other’s game very well. So that’s why we look at international performances to select them for the main team,” Kuttappa said.Solanki will look to maintain his No 1 status when he travels to Ireland for a training-cum-competition event, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday.