Interview with Indian wrestler Amit Kumar Dhankar: “Rio Olympics is my biggest focus area now”

Suhrid Barua

Amit Kumar Dhankar has many positives to count on as he prepares for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Haryana grappler, who turned out for Mumbai Garuda in the Pro Wrestling League and even played a key role in dismantling Haryana Hammers in the final, is now looking forward to the Olympic qualifying trials to be held in the first week of March.

A talented wrestler, Amit has been winning medals for India since 2007 and is not heard often (wearing the national colours) because he competes in the same weight category as Yogeshwar Dutt (the latter has been representing the country in 66 kg consistently).

Employed with Haryana Police as Inspector, Amit is best remembered for the winning the gold medal at the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championship in New Delhi. The grappler spoke about his Pro Wrestling League experience and his Olympic preparations in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.

Here are the excerpts:

Q: How exciting was it to be part of the first-ever Pro Wrestling League?

It was a fantastic experience to be part of the Pro Wrestling League. The league had featured so many big international stars like Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov, American Adeline Gray, Azerbaijan’s Yuliya Ratkevich and Turkey’s Elif Jale Yesilirmak among many others.

Merely seeing these star wrestlers on the mat was a huge experience for me.

Q: You played your part in Mumbai Garuda winning the Pro Wrestling League beating Haryana Hammers in the final – you had a big win over Vishal Rana.

I featured in the first bout of the final. It was important for Mumbai Garuda that I made a strong beginning. I was keyed up for the bout and did not give Vishal Rana any chance winning it easily 12-0. I was really pleased to win it for my team.

Q: The 2016 Rio Olympics is not far away – how are your preparations going on?

I’m working hard and still have a lot of hard work ahead of me. The Olympic qualifiers will be held in the first week of March and I will have to put my best foot forward for the Rio showpiece event.

Q: You compete in the same weight category like Yogeshwar Dutt – how do you fancy your Olympic qualification chances?

No bout is easy, not even in the selection trials. I agree that there is fierce competition for places in the national side and I will work hard to stake my claim for a spot in the Indian team. As a professional wrestler, one has to be prepared for competition.

Q: You moved to the court in 2014 when the team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was picked without any selection trials.

I have nothing against anybody – at that moment, I felt the selection trials for a big event like Commonwealth Games should have been held and hence I moved the court.

Q: Haryana as a state has been churning out a steady supply line of grapplers to the national team. How do you think the sport can spread to all corners of the country?

I’m sure you will see more wrestlers from many other states after the success of the Pro Wrestling League. The extensive television coverage of the league will encourage youngsters to take up wrestling as they will see a future in the sport.

Q: How do you assess the health of Indian wrestling?

It is really good. Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt have really lifted the sport in the country and Indian wrestling will go places in years to come.

Q: You have won so many laurels for the country – you bagged a heap of medals at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship among others. Which has been your most satisfying win so far?

I won the gold medal at the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championship in New Delhi – it was the most cherished win of my international career as it came in front of my home crowd. I also won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in Johannesburg in the same year, even that victory was memorable for me.

Q: Finally, every wrestler looks to improve – what are the improvement areas you want to focus on?

There is always room for improvement. I want to keep working on my power, endurance and tactics. Rio Olympics is my biggest focus area now and I really want to fare well in the upcoming Olympic selection trials.

Originally published on Sportskeeda.com here