Rahul Aware won the biggest medal of his wrestling career till date, when he defeated Canada’s Steven Takahashi in the final of the men’s 57 kg competition at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Thursday.
Aware is also a 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games medallist, winning the gold in Pune. For Aware, it was akin to winning the coveted medal in front of a home crowd, having been born in the town of Patoda in the Beed district of Maharashtra.
He was not selected for the wrestling team for the 2010 Games held in New Delhi nor for the 2014 Games in Glasgow and as such, was wrestling in his first-ever Commonwealth Games bouts.
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“I have been waiting for this medal for the last 10 years. I can’t describe how it feels to claim it. I missed out on 2010, even in 2014, the team was sent without trials. So, I am very happy that I could finally fulfil this dream,” Aware would later say.
The 26-year-old also won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Championships at Melbourne in 2011. Aware also finished 11th at the Wrestling World Championships held at Tashkent in 2014.
He had abandoned the wrestling team en route to a training camp in Georgia, alleging bias in the selection of Olympic spots by the Wrestling Federation of India. The WFI had at that time, stated that Aware wasn’t upto the standards expected of him in international meets.
The student of PVP College, Patoda fought through extreme pain in the final after suffering a groin niggle, but steadied himself to bag the gold, “I dedicate this to my guru who passed away in 2012, I am happy that all the efforts I put in got the result I wanted.”
(With inputs from PTI)