MUMBAI: Those were tears of joy and Rahul Aware found it hard to control it when national anthem was being played at the Carrara Stadium complex.
From seeing his farmer father Balasaheb work hard to make both ends meet in the drought-prone Beed district of Maharashtra to winning the first wrestling gold for his country in this edition of Commonwealth Games, the 26-year-old has grappled many adversities to reach where he is today.
Aware's story is no different from a lot of wrestlers coming from back of the beyond. Winning those 'Dangals' and funding his dietary needs with the pocket money. Aware's journey started in 2005 from a little known tehsil in Beed district called Patoda.
Rahul's father Balasaheb was a struggling wrestler, who later took up farming to support the needs of his family. The new Commonwealth winner was inspired by his father to take up the sport, his younger brother Gokul Aware said.
In 2005, Rahul started training with ace wrestler Harishchandra Birajdar, himself a gold medallist at the 1970 Commonwealth Games.
"My father and Birajdar knew each other and that's how Rahul went to Birajdar. He trained under Birajdar till his death in 2011. Thereafter, he started training under Arjuna awardee wrestler Kaka Pawar at his centre in Pune. Once Rahul got a job in Indian Railways, he could concentrate fully without thinking about finances," added Gokul, who himself is a wrestler.
He used to train in Patoda till 2011 before shifting his base to a more cosmopolitan city of Pune.
"Initially, Rahul trained in Patoda and participated in local wresting competitions held during melas (fairs). He earned pocket money through these competitions, which took care of his diet and nutrition," Gokul informed.
As soon as Aware won the final, the entire Patoda village erupted in celebration.
"I cannot express my feelings and joy in words. It was our dream and got fulfilled today. Our target has been achieved," Gokul's voice choked with emotion.