Asian Championships: Gold medal pics & Chhatrasal wrestler Aman's golden triumph

Pictures of yellow metal pasted around the academy to motivate trainees after its most famous pupil, Sushil Kumar, sent behind the bars on a murder charge
Aman Sehrawat won 57kg gold on Thursday.
Aman Sehrawat won 57kg gold on Thursday.

CHENNAI: The iconic Chhatrasal Stadium in the national capital was in the news for all the wrong reasons last year with its most successful pupil, double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, being jailed on a murder charge. The wrestling academy at the venue was apparently in disarray with the confidence of around 200 trainees at an all-time low. 

It was then that coaches including Parveen Dahiya and motivational speaker Vickrant Mahajan came up with a novel idea. They decided to print hundreds of pictures of a gold medal and decorate the venue with them. Be it the training hall, dormitory, rooms of wrestlers and dining hall, the pictures were pasted everywhere. The aim was to shift focus to the ultimate prize, a gold medal, rather than the incident that not only shook the academy but the sporting fabric of the country.

Aman Sehrawat and his coach Parveen Dahiya
with a picture of a gold medal pasted on the wall.

"We want these wrestlers to aspire for gold irrespective of the competitions they are participating in. We want them to focus on wrestling instead of thinking about the incident. Vickrant, who has been working with Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya since 2019, suggested us the way and we liked it," Parveen told this daily.

The move started reaping dividends with young wrestlers shining at national and international meets. The talented Aman Sehrawat led the charge by bagging U23 World Championships gold in 57kg last year. He then won bronze in Zagreb Open Ranking Series in February this year. Aman bettered his show at the ongoing Asian Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan on Thursday by becoming the champion in his weight category. By doing so, Aman also helped the country to their first gold at the meet so far. Incidentally, it was Ravi, Aman's senior at Chhatrasal Stadium, who made a hat-trick of titles in the weight category last year at the continental championships.

"It's good that the Indian wrestlers are dominating the weight category. It was Ravi who won three back-to-back gold at the event and in his absence due to injury, Aman ensured that India retained the gold," added Parveen.

Aman defeated Japanese wrestler Rikuto Arai 7-1 in the quarterfinal before registering a 7-4 win over his Chinese rival Wanhao Zou in the next bout. He then beat local wrestler Almaz Smanbekov 9-4 to clinch the gold medal.

"The idea behind pasting the pictures was to infuse gold medal into the consciousness of every trainee at the venue. Lack of resources and talent never hampered our show in international events. Instead, it's been a lack of aspiration that has been doing the damage. We wanted to raise the aspiration of our wrestlers. It's not about winning a medal but it's about winning them over and over again," Vickrant told this daily.

The good show will pitch Aman against Ravi with the first qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics slated in September this year. But Parveen is not bothered as all he wants is medals irrespective of who bags them. "Ravi missed the gold in Tokyo. He desperately wants it this time. Aman is doing good in the same weight category. They are bound to compete in the selection trials but it doesn't matter as all we want is our wrestlers winning Worlds and Olympics medals," Parveen said.

Aman will be back at Chhatrasal in a couple of days following his triumph but a bigger challenge awaits him if he wishes to fulfill his Olympic dream. Expected to be up against his more famed compatriot, he certainly will hope the medal picture in his room motivates him to overcome the biggest challenge of his life so far.

Deepak wins 79kg bronze

As many as five Indian Indian freestyle wrestlers were in action on Thursday but only Deepak (79kg) can finish on the podium apart from Aman. Others (Anuj Kumar 65kg, Mulayam Yadav 70kg and Deepak 97kg) couldn't add to India's tally. Five more freestyle wrestlers will be in action on the final day of the competition on Friday.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The New Indian Express