24-YEAR OLD Rahul Balasaheb Aware, who hails from Beed, Maharashtra was a bronze medal winner at the Asian Wrestling Championship in 2011 held in Uzbekistan. He is one of the wrestlers who will be seen in the upcoming Pro Wrestling League (PWL) which begins next month. He was bought by the Mumbaiche Garude franchise for a sum of Rs. 26,60 lakh.
Some of his accomplishments and list of medals include the Shiv Chhatrapati award in 2008-09, gold medal at the Asia Junior Championship in 2009 and at the 2011 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, and bronze at the Asian Wrestling Championship in 2011.
TFG caught up with the young wrestler who was in Mumbai for a promotional event of PWL.
What are your expectations from the league?
It is a very good initiative for us wrestlers who will get to experience something new. There are other teams and international players in the teams against whom we'll get a chance to wrestle, which will be a great learning experience for me and the other wrestlers in the league.
How do you think PWL will help you as a wrestler and the others who will compete?
Firstly, I would want to say that I am very thankful to all the federations who work behind these leagues. This league is going to benefit me and all the other wrestlers who are part of it, as it will help us get better at our sport and it will also help make wrestling a popular sport among the people. The wrestlers will get a stage where it will help people know about the players.
It is considered as a norm to see wrestlers in India mostly hail from UP or Haryana or different parts of the north, while you come from Maharashtra. How did you get introduced to the sport?
Where I come from, wrestling was being practised and I used to train under late Harishchandra Madhavrao Birajdar who was a gold medallist at the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and has also coached several wrestlers. He was my coach and guru. At a very young age, he introduced me to the sport and here I am today, competing and training with the best.
How have you been receiving support from the federation and organisations like JSW Sports?
The federation has always been supportive and what JSW Sports is doing for me and other wrestlers is commendable. There are situations where the players are worried about their career due to an injury and organisations like JSW Sports help us get back to our sport by providing us with the right facilities. They have always supported me as a player during injuries and for other needs, so it is really good for me.
Are you looking at this league as a good opportunity to prepare yourself ahead of the Olympics which will be held next year?
Yes, it will be a good time for us to get ourselves prepared ahead of a major event like the Olympics. In this league, we will be training around different places and since we'll be facing different players who are of international standards, it will be of great help to me and to my fellow-wrestlers.
You are one among the many athletes who has been included in the TOP Scheme for the Olympics. Has it been helpful?
Yes, I am part of that scheme but as of now nothing has been delivered to us, the procedures for it are still on.