Interview with Ravinder Khatri: Hoping for 5-6 wrestling medals in Rio Olympics 2016
His father – a farmer – wished to see one of his kids become a wrestler – and Ravinder Khatri fulfilled that ‘wish’ by not only taking up wrestling seriously but also becoming the second Greco-Roman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics in 12 years.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Bodia Village in Haryana’s Jhajjar District, was selected by the Army Sports Institute in Pune during a talent scouting in 2006 at the age of 14. Ravinder, who missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympics by a whisker ad is employed with the Army, spoke about his Olympic aspirations in an exclusive interview with Sporstkeeda.
Q You qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics only after Kyrgyzstan’s Kenzheev Zhanarbek – the gold medalist at the Asian Olympic qualifier – was tested positive – your thoughts.
Well, how you qualify hardly matters as the satisfaction of qualifying for the Olympic is the ultimate thing for any wrestler. I just hope that I can make the most of my opportunity in Rio.
Q This is the first time in 12 years that India will be represented by Greco-Roman wrestlers in Olympics – not just one but two with your qualification after Hardeep earlier made the cut.
Greco-roman wrestling was lagging behind freestyle wrestling in terms of performance over the years, but two Greco-Roman wrestlers are playing in the Olympics which just show that Indian Greco-Roman wrestling is indeed coming up. Both I and Hardeep will look to make a big impact in Rio.
Q You belong to a non-sporting family – you fathered always wanted one of his kids to be a wrestler – you must be happy to have fulfilled his wish.
My father wanted to see one of his kids emerge as a wrestler. I was spotted by the Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune in 2006 and since there has been no looking back. I’m chuffed that I was able to fulfill my father’s wish.
Q Freestyle wrestling takes center stage over Greco-roman wrestling in India – what’s your take?
There are more tournaments for freestyle wrestling in India as compared to Greco-Roman wrestling. I’m sure the consistent performances of Greco-Roman wrestlers will give a big boost to this category of wrestling in the country.
Q You wrestle in the 85-kg in the Rio Olympics – how do you assess your medal-winning chances?
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.
Q How different is preparation for Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling?
Wrestlers have to be high on fitness and endurance in both categories – unlike freestyle wrestling where you look to hold the legs, in Greco-Roman wrestling it is all about power. Power is a big factor in deciding the outcome as we don’t hold the leg off an opponent like it happens in freestyle wrestling.
Q India will have a big contingent of eight wrestlers battling for glory in Rio – the first time that the country is being represented in all three formats – men’s freestyle, men’s Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle.
Our wrestlers across categories are training hard and we hope to bag five to six medals in Rio.
Q Wrestling is a highly demanding sport – how do you unwind when you can afford to avail some free time?
Our schedule is such that we don’t much free time – we train for eight hours a day and whatever time I get I like to hang out with my friends or team-mates depending on whether I am away from national duty or at a camp.