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Nisha Dahiya Wrestling Through Doubts - Journey From Almost Quitting To Securing Paris Olympic Berth

Who is Nisha Dahiya? A girl who was rethinking her wrestling career in 2016 due to an unwanted hiatus and cut to 2024, Nisha won an important Paris Olympic quota for India. The only reason she could do this was because she had "good people" around her. Learn more about this rising wrestling star

Instagram/ @nisha_dahiya_07
Nisha Dahiya Photo: Instagram/ @nisha_dahiya_07

"Mahri choriya, choro se kam hai ke" – this powerful Haryanvi phrase from the movie "Dangal" resonates with the journey of Indian wrestler Nisha Dahiya. (More Sports News)

As the first girl from her village to take up sports, Dahiya dared to dream big. In the process, she dabbled in a wide range of sports until her perfect fit became apparent. Now, at just 25 years old, she's all set to represent India at the biggest sporting stage – the Paris Olympic Games 2024, on the quota that she recently won for the country.

"Growing up as two sisters without a brother, our family faced taunts from villagers who questioned our parents' decision to invest in us. But my parents believed in us, treating us no differently than they would have if we were boys," Dahiya, raised in a small village in Panipat, told Outlook.

Dahiya's father defied predefined gender norms and ensured his daughters' 'education' wasn't limited to mere learning. And in 8th class, Nisha, a farmer's daughter, left home to make a career in sports.

While basketball initially caught her eye as it seemed the coolest sport around, all her friends were into wrestling or kabaddi. Joining them on the wrestling mat, she quickly found herself drawn into the sport. With the support of her coach there who made sure that she didn't miss any session, Dahiya got into wrestling, feeling like it was simply meant to be.

"Encouraged by our father, I explored sports, because I didn't like studying. I learned to ride a bike in 7th grade. It wasn't until I left home for a hostel that I seriously considered wrestling as a career option. I had the freedom to choose for me, which many girls in my village didn't have," she continued.

Dahiya won her first medal at the age of 15 during the Asia Sub Junior tournament in Rohtak in 2014. It was at this moment that she started taking wrestling seriously. But the Olympics was still not on the cards.

Dahiya's journey towards the Games took a big turn when she joined Satyawan Akhada, where she crossed paths with Sakshi Malik, a Rio 2016 Olympics bronze medalist. This was the 'IT' moment for Nisha that transformed her from a carefree girl merely exploring to a focused woman with her sights set firmly on an Olympic medal.

But champions aren't made in a day! Malik became Nisha's sparring partner, mentor, idol, sister, everything. She showed Nisha a mirror and helped the young wrestler aware of her real power. Nisha's game is natural, and she is strong. Her attacks are fast. All this, the potential that Nisha already had, Malik unlocked it.

From that day forward, Dahiya only trained with Malik. This partnership helped her to various victories, including a bronze medal at the World U-23 Championships and a silver medal at the Asian Championships. Despite her achievements, Dahiya shied away from self-promotion. She prefers to remain humble and grounded, tenets that keep her focused.

In 2016, Dahiya found herself on the verge of quitting wrestling after facing a four-year ban due to failing a doping test. She said, "I was uncertain about the future and unaware of the ban rules, and how long it'd last. I contemplated giving up. However, with the support of my family and Sakshi didi, I regained my strength and bounced back in no time."

Dahiya bounced back and secured a Paris 2024 quota for India in the women’s freestyle 68kg category at the World Wrestling Olympic Qualifiers in Istanbul, Turkey. It was the fifth quota for the country.

Earlier, it was said that that quota is for the country and not for the player, hence Nisha Dahiya prepared for the trials.

But Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Sanjay Singh confirmed recently, that trials will not be held to select wrestlers for the Paris Olympics 2024. Instead, the athletes who secured the Olympic quota will travel to Paris to represent India at the multi-sport event.

When asked about her stance on the "No Trial" decision, Dahiya responded, "I was prepared for trials, but with the clarity that I am going, it's now crucial for us to maintain our focus, as time is limited."

Currently, she is aiming high, dedicating her days and nights to training for the Paris Games at the JSW facility in Bangalore under the guidance of an Iranian coach Olympian Amir Tavakkolian.

Despite missing training alongside Sakshi Malik, she knows that the Rio medallist is there for her, even if it's just over a phone call. Nisha Dahiya continues to rely on her mother's support.

"I can do anything as far as my mother is with me. She was the one I called right after winning the quota. I am capable of all these things because I have good people around me, that's the most important thing."

Paris Olympic Games 2024 Wrestling Events

Men's category

Men's Greco-Roman 60kg

Men's Greco-Roman 67kg

Men's Greco-Roman 77kg

Men's Greco-Roman 87kg

Men's Greco-Roman 97kg

Men's Greco-Roman 130kg


Men's Freestyle 57kg

Men's Freestyle 65kg

Men's Freestyle 74kg

Men's Freestyle 86kg

Men's Freestyle 97kg

Men's Freestyle 125kg

Women's category

Women's Freestyle 50kg

Women's Freestyle 53kg

Women's Freestyle 57kg

Women's Freestyle 62kg

Women's Freestyle 68kg

Women's Freestyle 76kg