Ravi Kumar Dahiya watching his weight with an eye on the Olympics

Maintaining his weight in the 57kg category has been difficult for the 22-year-old Indian wrestler.

Indian wrestling’s new superstar, Ravi Kumar Dahiya revealed that he decided to stay back at the New Delhi training centre during the nationwide lockdown in fear of gaining weight at home.

Ravi Kumar Dahiya, who sealed his Olympics berth last year in the 57kg category, has found himself more suited to the 61kg category, in which he won a gold medal at the Rome Ranking Series earlier this year.

Ravi Kumar had planned to shift to the 61kg category post the Games this year. However, with the Tokyo Olympics now postponed, he will need to hold on to the 57kg category until August 2021.

"Maintaining this weight has been a problem,” Ravi Kumar Dahiya admitted to the New Indian Express.

“I was thinking of changing my weight category after Tokyo 2020, but now, I will have to push that back by a year and fight in the same category,” the Haryana grappler added.

Though Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium has very few athletes and no coaches at the moment, it serves Ravi Kumar Dahiya’s purpose of having measured food to maintain his weight.

“I decided not to go back home so that I would be able to maintain my weight. At home, I can eat four times and whenever I want. Over here, it is just twice,” he said.

The Indian wrestler, however, keeps contact with his coaches daily over the phone, where he is instructed to focus more on weight training and moves.

Ravi Kumar Dahiya sealed his Olympic berth at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships. Photo: UWW

Excelling outside his comfort zone

Despite the challenges of maintaining his current 57kg weight category, Dahiya has had some strong performances over the last year.

The youngster had started turning heads with his unbeaten campaign at the 2019 Pro Wrestling League before he impressed with a fifth-place finish at the 2019 Asian Wrestling Championships in China.

However, Dahiya made up for his bronze-medal playoff loss at the Asian Wrestling Championships by eventually clinching the medal at the 2019 World Championships.

Debuting at the Worlds, the grappler upstaged European champion Arsen Harutyunyan and 2017 world champion Yuki Takahashi to grab one of the six Olympic spots available.

After clinching a gold medal at the Rome Ranking Series tournament in January earlier this year in the 61kg, Ravi Kumar Dahiya dropped his weight to 57kg to grab gold at the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships again.

With these performances, it’s why veteran Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt has tipped him as a medal prospect for the Tokyo Olympics.

Sitting in the fourth position of the 57kg world rankings list, behind Russia’s Zavur Uguev, Turkey’s Suleyman Atli and Serbia’s Stevan Andria Micic, Ravi Kumar Dahiya’s only goal now is to get better.

“In some of the competitions that I participated, I was happy with the kind of results I got. You can say there is a certain degree of confidence in my game, but I have to constantly improve and train hard to prepare for the Olympics," the Indian wrestler signed off.