Avtar Singh, only the second Indian judoka to make it to the Olympics after the qualification norm was introduced, is determined to prove his worth and make the country proud at the Rio Games.
The 24-year-old from Gurdaspur district of Punjab competes in the 90 kg category and became the first Indian judoka to qualify for the quadrennial event since Akram Shah (60kg) appeared in the 2004 Games.
Avtar underwent training-cum-competition stints in Georgia, Hungary and Russia over the last couple of Months in the run up to the Olympics.
“Georgia, Hungary and France are powerhouses of judo. In Asia, South Korea and Japan are tough nuts to crack. So viewing all that points we decided on the venues where I can get maximum exposure and will get skilled co-partner to practice,” Avtar said.
Standing at 6 feet 2 inch, Avtar is among the tallest in his category in the world. Serving in the Punjab Police as an assistant sub-inspector, Avtar has represented India in all the Gram Slam and Grand Pix judo competitions over the last two years. He also participated in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England in 2012.
“The last two months were very crucial for me and I have utilised every bit of the exposure that I got. I owe a lot to Solanki ji.”
Avtar’s coach Yashpal Solanki, a former Arjuna Awardee judoka and now a senior intelligence officer with the Punjab Police, is confident that his ward is in with a chance to win an Olympic medal.
“We have tried to polish Avtar’s strong points and have also worked on his weaknesses. He is a bit weak in locking and socking, so we have tried to get rid of that,” Solanki said.
“He is the tallest judoka in the world in his category, so he has an advantage over others. His qualities are endurance, height and he is alert. There have been around 30 events that he could have participated in, but he has played in only six of them. The others have participated in over 20 to 25 of them, so they more points than Avtar,” he added.