"Defeating Pakistan in Asian Championship final was special," says kabaddi star Nitin Tomar
After two solid campaigns with the Puneri Paltan and Bengal Warriors in the third and fourth editions of the Pro Kabaddi League, Nitin Tomar was set to be one of the most sought-after players at the player auction last year ahead of Season 5.
However, even he himself was shocked when the UP Yoddha broke the bank for him with a winning bid of Rs 93 lakh, making the 22-year-old the most expensive player in the history of the competition. The youngster, with the weight of his price tag on his shoulders, did not fail to deliver either, picking up 177 points in 20 appearances and taking his side into the playoff stage.
Following the PKL, Tomar was also a part of the Indian team that won gold at the Asian Championship in Iran last year in November, where he played a starring role as an all-rounder and picked up points in attack as well as defence in crucial matches.
Now, Tomar is leading the Services side at the Senior National Championships, as they get set to face the mighty Haryana team in the semis, in what is a repeat of last year's final.
Sportskeeda caught up with Tomar and spoke to him about a number of topics, including his phenomenal 2017. Here are a few excerpts!
Being the defending champions, your team is one of the favourites to clinch the trophy? What do you think of your chances against Haryana?
We have a definite chance to win, no doubt. We are an extremely disciplined team, being from the Services and have a number of strong players in all positions. We have come here to win and no matter who is in front of us, we always fancy our chances.
How do you look back at the year that has gone by for you? And what targets have you set for yourself in 2018?
Not just 2017, but the last two years have been really special for me. They were quite good professionally and personally, with the highest point being the bid in the Pro Kabaddi auction.
For 2018, my sole focus is on winning gold for India at the Asian Games. We won the Asian Championships and now, it is up to us to continue in the same manner and win gold once again for the country.
How was your experience at the Asian Championships?
It was quite good. We played well on the court and off it, it was a lot of fun. We didn't understand the language there but it was great meeting other players there and enjoying with the team.
And how was it defeating Pakistan twice, especially in the final?
Defeating Pakistan is always a special feeling. We are great friends with them off the mat but yes, there is a unique rivalry playing against them. Like the cricket matches between the two teams are more heated than others, it is the same for us in kabaddi.
At just 22, you have become a sporting superstar in India and enjoy a massive fan following! Any message you would like to give to them?
Whatever we are today and how the sport of kabaddi is doing as a whole, it is thanks to our fans. I am grateful for their support and the affection they give me. Without them, we would be nothing!