Avtar Singh: 10 things to know about India's sole judo hope at the Rio Olympics 2016
Avtar Singh became the first Indian judoka to qualify for Rio Olympics 2016. The burly 24-year-old lad will be representing India in Judo after he bagged the continental quota in the 90kg category by scoring 182 points, which gave him a ranking of 79 by the International Jude Federation and saw him make the cut for the Games.
He is going to be a part of the largest ever Indian contingent to represent the country in the history of Summer Olympics. Let us now take a look at 10 facts about Avtar that you probably didn’t know about:
#1 Avtar was born on 3 April, 1992 in Gurdaspur, Punjab to a lower middle class family. He was quite mischevious as a child and used to work on his parents’ farm while growing up in Kothe Ghurala village.
#2 His father works in the health department of Punjab government and his mother is a housewife. They have always supported him and motivated him to achieve his dreams, and sacrificed a lot to see their son become successful.
#3 He did not get much support from the Judo Federation of India during the initial days of his career. He was able to go to the Sasmsun Grand Prix in Turkey this April only after his parents cashed their fixed deposit funds to book his flight tickets.
“They broke all the few fixed deposits they had. It was their entire life-savings. They gave it all to me.” “That’s why they got emotional when I got the Olympic berth.”
#4 The assistant sub-inspector with Punjab Police is supported by JSW Sports and his coach Yashpal Solanki, who believes the youngster will go a long way in the world of judoka, and has the necessary skills to give tough competition to the world’s elite in the sport.
#5 Avtar considers the legendary Milkha Singh to be his inspiration and role model, and hopes to emulate him at the Olympics and make the country proud. His sole aim is to win a medal and see the country’s flag soar high at the Games.
#6 He was often let down by his coach back in 2008 who was very biased and did not favour Avtar over his other students. Even after defeating them in his duels, Avtar would still be adjudged the loser of the match. This disappointed him a lot and he even thought of quitting at one point, but his father motivated him by asking him to keep playing the game, instead of quitting.
“I’d beat most of them black and blue during bouts, but still they’d be declared the winner. He had no faith in me. He’d actually tell people, ‘mera naak kaat dena agar Avtar Singh kabhi bada player banega,'.” Noticing his son’s disappointment, Avtar’s father told him inspiring words that he still repeats to himself before every match: “Abhi game chodne ka time nahi. Abhi game khelne ka time hai.”
#7 The 6’4 tall bloke uses his height to full advantage on the mat. He uses his long legs as his weapons as he perfectly executes the inner and outer leg sweep to trip opponents and gain the upper hand in his bouts. He is also very fit, and has enough stamina to last longer than most of his opponents.
#8 Avtar did not get much match time in 2015 as he competed in just six events, mostly due to financial constraints. He had to be at his optimum best and improve his world ranking of 200 back then in order to qualify for the Games. While other judokas improved their rankings in 20-30 events, he did it in just 6. He reached a world ranking of 79, which helped him secure one of the two continental quotas from Asia for the Olympics.
#9 He had some stupendous performances during the Asian Championships last month in Uzbekistan, where he finished fifth overall. He reached all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Komronshokh Ustopiriyon of Tajikistan. He defeated crowd favourite Saeed Moradi of Iran in the repcharge round, but lost to Chinese Xunzhao Cheng of China in his final duel of the tournament.
#10 He had represented India at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he lost out in the round of 16 by eventual silver medallist Matthew Purssey. He also represented India at the 2016 South Asian Games held in Guwahati and Shillong, where he clinched the gold medal in the 90kg category to make his country proud. He hopes to continue on his amazing form and targets a podium finish at the Olympics.