South Asian Games 2019: We didn't get much competition, says raider Pawan Sehrawat after India win seventh straight gold
Pawan Sehrawat, captain of Pro Kabaddi League team Bengaluru Bulls, donned the India colours for the first time at South Asian Games. Moreover, he was promoted to vice-captain.
India won all their matches in the kabaddi event at South Asian Games in Kathmandu by large margins
India have won 10 gold medals in men's category and four straight in women's
Pawan Sehrawat was one of the multiple debutants for a young India side
Pro Kabaddi team Bengaluru Bulls' coach Randhir Singh reiterated multiple times during the recently concluded seventh season that Pawan Sehrawat will go on to achieve big things and has a big role to play in the Indian team one day. That arrived this past month at the South Asian Games at the APF Hall Halchowk in Kathmandu, Nepal.
India had no trouble clinching their and seventh straight gold medal, tenth overall at the South Asian Games. The ten gold medals have come in 11 editions of the regional games with Pakistan (in 1993) the only other nation to bother India. The Indian women's team claimed a gold medal as well, for the fourth straight time.
India's dominance can be ascertained by the scores from the preliminary stages and then the final. All matches finished with a difference of 20-plus points with hosts Nepal being beaten by a jaw-dropping 36 points.
A largely young team led by Deepak Niwas Hooda started off by beating Sri Lanka (49-16) before romping past Pakistan (49-22), Bangladesh (44-29), Nepal (62-26) and again Sri Lanka in the final (51-18).
"The competition wasn't that much. Bar one (Bangladesh), we beat all teams by 40-plus [20-plus] points. Our team was very strong and the coaches were spoilt for choice in the raiders department. So a strong team weakened the competition even further," raider Sehrawat told Firstpost.
For someone who has been a part of the well-televised Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) for five seasons, Sehrawat had nerves coming into his first game. It didn't help that he was elevated to the role of the vice-captain. "It was a proud moment for me. It was the first time that I was playing for India and it is every player's dream to represent the country and on top of that, I was the vice-captain," said Sehrawat.
"There was a slight bit of nervousness and I got tackled in my very first raid. There was a responsibility of representing India, doing well and winning a medal for the country. The confidence only grew with time and then my peers bolstered my morale also by telling me that the opposition is weak and that I should just concentrate on playing my natural game."
Sehrawat-led Bengaluru Bulls had reached the semi-finals of the PKL this season before falling short to Dabang Delhi. Last season, they had emerged champions. Pawan was pivotal in both campaigns: 642 points (617 raid points) from 48 matches at over 13 points per match.
He believes the experience in PKL helped calm his nerves slightly. "If I had played at the South Asian Games or any big tournament directly, then I would have been even more nervous than I already was. I have done well in Pro Kabaddi and played big games so the nerves didn't last long. It helped me in my performance."
Amid such weakened opposition, it is difficult to stay motivated. But the aspect of representing the country kept the players going. "Just representing India is a massive motivation. So that's what I kept reminding myself, that I've been selected in the Indian team and I have to keep doing well," added Sehrawat.
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