CHENNAI: Almost 200 wrestlers and coaches were glued to the television in the wrestling hall of Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday afternoon. They were all intently watching Ravi Dahiya in action, one of the many wrestlers to have emerged from there in recent years. Among them was Arun Kumar, Ravi's long-time sparring partner. They share an extremely close bond, hailing as they do from Nahri village in Sonepat. Now with the Indian Air Force, Arun competes in 70kg freestyle and even went to Vladikavkaz, Russia, recently as Ravi's sparring partner.
Ravi eventually made his way to the final, but he was trailing 2-9 at one stage in the semifinal against Kazakh wrestler Nurislam Sanayev. Time seemed to be running out in the second and final period. Despite the deficit, neither was Ravi tense, as was revealed by him after the bout, nor was Arun. "He has done that before (overturning the deficit), so we were not worried. We knew it's a matter of one move and he will be back in the game," an elated Arun told this daily from Chhatrasal Stadium.
The 31-year-old Arun informed that they had worked on match simulations and created scenarios where Ravi was down by a huge margin with only a few seconds remaining in the bout. "We do simulations quite often during sparring and create various situations that he will face in the bouts. I am sure this must have helped him to maintain his calm despite trailing."
Ravi, along with Deepak Punia (86kg), was scheduled to train in Russia after participating in the Poland Open in June this year. With the second wave of the coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe, the duo got stranded in Poland for almost two weeks. They eventually landed in Vladikavkaz to join Bajrang Punia to get some quality training ahead of the Tokyo Games. But something was amiss. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) had arranged for local wrestlers of quality for the Indian wrestlers to spar with, but they also needed sparring partners who the wrestlers had trained with for years. The call was made to Arun to head to Russia.
"We reached there in the first week of July and stayed there for almost three weeks to ensure they train properly. I share a good rapport with Ravi and as we have been training for a long period, he is quite comfortable with me. In fact when he first shifted to Chhatrasal, I was the one whom he knew as I hail from the same village" added Arun.
Arun is confident that Ravi will bring home gold. On Thursday, Arun will once again witness Ravi's final bout at Chhatrasal Stadium and cheer for his mate just like he has been doing so for years.