Tokyo Olympic medalist and ace wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya Malik defeated Ebikewenimo Welson of Nigeria 10-0 in the final of the Men’s Freestyle 57kg to win his maiden Commonwealth Games gold on Saturday. Star Indian wrestler Dahiya was a class apart in the summit clash as he did not concede any points en route to the gold medal show in the 57kg category.
Notably, Ravi had won the silver medal after losing 7-4 to World champion Zaur Uguev of Russia in the keenly-fought men’s 57kg freestyle title clash at the Tokyo Olympics. His medal, in the men’s 57kg freestyle, was only India’s second silver in wrestling at the Olympics after Sushil Kumar’s triumph in London 2012.
Welson, a three-time Commonwealth Games medallist, looked to go on the attack early on but Ravi defended well. A minute into the bout, Ravi Dahiya caught hold of the Nigerian’s legs and executed a fitele to rake in eight points. A ‘fitele’ is a move in wrestling where one grappler catches hold of their opponent’s ankles and twirls them around in quick succession to score quick points.
Welson rolled out of the ring to escape an immediate defeat, but the Indian wrestler picked up two more points soon after play resumed and won by technical superiority.
POOJA WINS BRONZE
On the other hand, former world junior silver medallist Pooja Gehlot had to settle for a bronze medal in the women’s 50kg freestyle wrestling event. The podium finish at Birmingham 2022 was the first major senior international medal for the 25-year-old Indian.
In the medal bout, the Scotswoman scored first to take a 2-0 lead, but Pooja Gehlot came roaring back and scored 10 points in quick succession towards the end of the first period. Shortly after the restart, the Indian wrapped up the affair to win the bout by technical superiority.
RAVI’s ROAD TO BIRMINGHAM
Born on December 12, 1997, in the village of Nahri in Sonipat, Haryana, Ravi Kumar Dahiya’s early introduction to wrestling hardly came as a surprise. Before long, a young Ravi Dahiya left home to walk a very similar path to most Indian wrestlers of international renown do. His next stop was New Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium, Indian wrestling’s coveted school for the gifted.
At the Chhatrasal Stadium, Ravi Dahiya came under the influence of legendary coach Satpal Singh, who had also mentored the likes of Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt. While coach Satpal played a major role in moulding Ravi into a top wrestler, another man who contributed equally, if not more, to Ravi Dahiya’s rise was his father, Rakesh Dahiya.
A lease farmer without his own land, Rakesh Dahiya was pushed to the limit to make ends meet. But when it came to supporting Ravi Dahiya’s dreams of becoming a wrestler, Rakesh was as tenacious as Ravi is now on the mat.
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