Rahi Dahiya clinched a silver medal in the 57kg freestyle wrestling in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on August 5. In the semi-final, the 23-year-old made one of the greatest comebacks in the history of wrestling.
In the final match, Dahiya faced Zaur Uguev, the defending two-time World Champion and the defending four-time Russian National Champion.
Dahiya, who was born in Nahari in Haryana’s Sonipat district to a family of a small farmer, joined the famed Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi at a very young age. Under the tutelage of Satpal Singh, the coach for India’s other prodigious wrestlers like Yogeshwar Dutt, Sushil Kumar, Deepak Punia, and Amit Kumar Dahiya, he trained every day for years. His father would travel every day to the stadium carrying milk and dairy products from their village for Dahiya’s diet.
Dahiya’s village, Nahari, is also home to noted wrestler Amit Kumar Dahiya (unrelated) and many others who have represented India on the world stage. However, the village still lacks many basic amenities like a 24/7 electricity supply, a hospital and constant running drinking water.
“It’s like a tradition in the village,” Ravi Dahiya said. “Amit and so many others came to the stadium and now I am here with 30 other kids from my village. My brother is also there.”
The wrestler made his international debut at the 2015 World Junior Wrestling Championships where he won the silver medal. Four years later was his debut as a senior at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships, where he was bested by Uguev for the first time but he still managed to clinch bronze. Dahiya also competed at the 2019 Asian Wrestling Championships in Xi’an where he ranked 5th.
Dahiya then won gold at both the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships and the 2021 Asian Wrestling Championships and became the first Indian wrestler to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Confident of his ability even in 2019, Dahiya had told the Scroll in an interview, “I don’t think anyone can match me in stamina. It’s not just about qualification for Olympics alone, I think I can win a medal.”
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)