Ravinder Khatri: 10 things to know about the Indian Greco-Roman wrestler at Rio 2016
With the burgeoning success and fame of Indian freestyle wrestlers, the Greco-Roman practitioners have remained in their shadow of late. It is about to change at the Rio Olympics as for the first time in 12 years, two Greco-Roman grapplers have qualified for the Games.
24-year-old Haryana boy Ravinder Khatri is one of them. The 85kg specialist, who initially saw his Rio dreams getting scuppered, landed the berth later on to join Hardeep Singh in the biggest wrestling contingent from India going to an Olympic Games.
Here are 10 things you should know about Ravinder Khatri:
1. Ravinder Khatri was born on 15 May 1992 to farmer Jayprakash in the village of Bodia in Jhajjar district of Haryana. Khatri took up wrestling from a young age in his village akharas to fulfill his father’s wish who wanted to see one of his children become a grappler.
2. It wasn’t an easy journey for the youngster and he and his family had to overcome a lot of hardships along the way. One of the toughest periods of his blossoming career came in 2005 when his family was unable to meet his expenses while he was training at Bahadurgad in Maharashtra.
When it looked like there was no way in which he could continue his training, his then coach Hawa Singh became his saviour and bore the expenses for the following three months.
3. All his perseverance paid off the very next year when a 14-year-old Khatri was selected by Army Sports Institute in Pune during a talent scouting programme. It was where he sharpened his skills further under the guidance of Balwant Singh.
4. He started out as a freestyle wrestler but was later put into the Greco-Roman style wrestling as his growing body structure was more apt for it. Being a fast learner, he mastered the nuances of the sport pretty soon and immediately found success in the junior circuit.
5. His maiden participation at the Sub-junior National Wrestling Championship in 2007 fetched him the gold medal and he emulated his own feat the following two years as well.
6. It was a major heartbreak for him when he missed qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics by a mere two points. Instead of lamenting over it, it only made him more determined to grab his very next chance.
“I did not qualify in the 2012 Olympics by only 2 points. I decided to make the best of these next four years and now I have reached this mark,” he said at an event.
7. He achieved his goal when he secured a berth at the 2016 Rio Olympics but it landed on his lap in an unexpected way when all his hopes were dashed once again. He initially came third at the Asian Olympic qualifier in Astana to see his dreams getting crashed as only the top two qualified for the mega quadrennial Games.
But in an amazing turnaround of fortunes, he got through when the silver medal winner Janarbek Kenjeev of Kyrgyzstan was disqualified after testing positive.
8. He has singled out wrestlers from Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan as his biggest rivals but is keen to give his very best and make his country proud.
“All wrestlers will be well prepared for the Rio Olympics – no wrestler can be taken lightly. Having said that I feel wrestlers from Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan will be tough to beat. The point is if I give my best, I can do my country proud in Rio,” Khatri said.
9. He is currently supported by Pune-based sports NGO Lakshya and Netsurf Communications Pvt Ltd. The latter has even arranged all expenses for his father’s trip to Rio so that he can cheer his son to glory at the Olympics.
10. He was appointed a Havildar in the Jat Brigade in 2011.