Olympic plan is a step-by-step route to success; if not 2020, then 2024: wrestler Rahul Aware
Rahul Aware is no one of the most decorated names in Maharashtra wrestling, winning the bronze medal at the World Wrestling Championship (61-kg). He is not content with the colour of his medal.
Aware hit the headlines for wrong reason ahead of the Rio Olympics 2016, when he alleged “favouritism” by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) selectors.
Since then it has been a journey of ups and downs until his gold medal at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 57kg in Australia.
Aware has little to no chance of representing India at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, since wrestlers Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Bajrang Punia (65kg) have already secured the quota for the nation.
Aware, however, is taking the long-term view. Here he tells Jigar Hindocha why
Why did you chose to compete in the 61kg category, when this weight-class is not considered for the 2020 Olympics?
I have been doing well in this weight category. I could have taken part in the 57kg category, but competing in the 61kg category has ensured I am winning medals consistently. I knew it is not an Olympic weight category, but I am focusing on step-by-step success. We are one year away for the Olympics and anything can happen, but if not this time I will surely make a mark in the 2024 Olympics and even in 2028.
Does age matter on the mat, in terms of affecting athleticism and performance?
Nothing. Earlier, it was believed that once a wrestler crosses the age of 30, he cannot wrestle, but today, look at the winners at the World Wrestling Championships. All are senior wrestlers and even look at Sushil Kumar, he is going strong. Right now I am 27 and I still have a chance to represent India at the Olympics.
What has the exposure to international tournaments added to your game-plan?
Participating regularly in international events has taught me about how I need to improve my technique. I got to know how wrestlers from Iran, Russia and the US practice. We need to implement their style to get better on the mat. I am not saying that our coaches are not doing a good job, but we need our wrestlers to get exposure to new techniques and skills. International coaches can make a big impact.
Your thoughts on both your medal victories - 2018 CWG and the world meet?
I was working hard even before winning the Commonwealth medal. The medal brought lot of applauds and it give me a sense of belief that I can win on the bigger stage. It is good to win medals. I was not aware about my potential, so yes, If I had not made silly mistakes in the semi-final of the world championships, I could have won a gold medal.