On Tuesday, Indian Wrestler Rahul Aware, who won a Gold medal at the recently concluded 21st annual of Commonwealth Games held in Austalia’s Gold Coast. Aware received a hero’s welcome as hundreds of fans crowded the Pune International Airport to greet their adorable athletes. Rahul Aware, who hails from Patoda tehsil in Beed district, bested Canada’s Steven Takahashi in men’s freestyle 57 kg wrestling final to clinch the top prize in a humdinger of a finale. A protege of renowned wrestler the 26-year-old, Harishchandra Birajdar shed tears of joy as he was feted with a Puneri pagadi and hoisted on the shoulders of his enthusiastic fans as he stepped outside the airport.
“It was Birajdar mama’s dream that at least one of his students should win a gold medal at an international event… It was a difficult time for me when he [Mr. Birajdar] passed away in 2011,” said an emotional Aware, who underwent rigorous training with Arjuna awardee Kakasaheb Pawar at the latter’s wrestling academy in Katraj.
Birajdar had scored a Gold way back in the 1970 British Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh in Scotland. An influential figure in the State’s wrestling scene with a deft eye for budding talent, he was responsible for helping several promising wrestlers realise their potential.
“While his [Birajdar’s] death left a void in my life and he was not present to witness my success, Kakasaheb Pawar helped bridge this long journey from despair to success …I am everything today because of mama and Kaka,” said Aware. This was his second gold medal in Australia, having bagged one at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships held in Melbourne in 2011.