AFTER winning the gold medal in the men’s 97 kg freestyle wrestling final over Satywart Kadian of India at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Arjun Gill, 22, is all fired up for the 2016 Olympics.
“Well, obviously I want to go to 2016 Olympics. You know everyone’s got goals,” he tells Desi Today.
But right now he’s undergoing gruelling training six days a week for the World Championships coming up in September in Uzbekistan.
He trains at Simon Fraser University (SFU), where he is a wrestler for the SFU Clan, twice a week with coaches Justin Abdou and Dave McKay, and at Guru Hargobind Wrestling Club three days a week with Lhamsuren ‘Lhama’ Naidan, who was the Mongolian 2000 Olympic team wrestling coach.
Besides, Lhamasuren, Arjun gives credit to Guru Hargobind Wrestling Club coach Nasir Lal, and the late Randeep Sodhi, national and international wrestling champion who won gold at the 1997 Commonwealth Championships, for his success.
In fact, back in 2010 Randeep said this about Gill: “Arjun is an athletic and explosive wrestler. Success at the junior and senior level will depend on his work ethic over the next few years. He definitely has the skills to do well at 96 kg.”
Indeed, Arjun proved him to be correct.
Arjun himself is now inspiring a whole new generation of South Asian wrestlers.
When asked about the potential he sees in the younger generation, he responds: “Definitely we’ve got guys coming up. We are going to have more people in the national team in the next Games hopefully. I can see us bringing home two golds in the next Commonwealth Games.”
Although he placed fourth in his weight category in the B.C. High School Wrestling Championships while at North Surrey secondary school in grades 10 and 11, the breakthrough came in grade 12 when he bagged the gold medal in March 2009 in his weight category.
He went to Douglas College for two years and then to SFU where he begins his last semester this September in B.A. Health Sciences.
At 2009’s Canada Summer Games, Arjun won silver in his weight category. But at the 2010 national championships, he won gold his weight category.
Wrestling at the Commonwealth Games “was definitely one of my goals,” he tells Desi Today.
His strategy was to scout his competition as he competed in championships in France last year and in Italy this year.
In Italy, he lost to the Indian wrestler but it was a good experience. It was important to “have an understanding of what to expect.” Coach Lhamasuren helped him make the game plans.
Arjun explains that there is a huge difference between just watching a wrestler perform and actually wrestling with him. Once you have wrestled with him, “then the next time you understand what to expect – what moves to use, what might work.”
“I was a little bit nervous when I stepped on the mat, but then once the whistle blew, I was fine,” Arjun relates.
He felt his opponent Satywart Kadian weakening a bit when the second round began and that boosted his confidence.
“Then I gave it my all. The score was 4-4 but I won because of technical superiority – if you take the guy down [as opposed to push outs], then it’s more points – two points,” Arjun explains.
And when he won?
“I was really happy. I have never actually been emotional after my wins, but this meant a lot and I was really happy,” he says.
And what a victory it was!
“I would like to thank my coach Lhamsuren and my grandfather Harbhajan Singh Gill and my dad and mom. Grandfather played a big role – he’s always been supporting me through my ups and downs in wrestling,” Arjun says.
Asked if having so many successful Indian wrestlers and Indo-Canadian wrestlers has helped to strengthen his confidence, he humbly acknowledges how Indian wrestlers like Sushil Kumar who have won gold medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and Indo-Canadians like Arjan Bhullar and those who came before him “all inspire you to do better, to work hard.”
ARJUN says he’s thinking of becoming a firefighter after completing his degree at SFU.
“I feel like it’s a rewarding job – like you are doing good for the community. So I feel I will enjoy it,” he says.