Rahul Chaudhari has been one of the shining stars of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) ever since its inception in 2014.
With 1014 points spanning across seven seasons, the Uttar Pradesh-born raider has been there from the start. He is currently with Tamil Thalaivas after spending six seasons with Telugu Titans.
An exceptional raider who possesses the ability to change the course of a game in a split second, Rahul Chaudhari has scripted many incredible victories single-handedly both in the PKL and for India.
He won the gold medal with India at the Asian Beach Games in 2014 and followed it up with another gold for the country at the 2016 South Asian Games.
However, the World Cup win over Iran in the final in 2016 has so far been the icing on the cake for what’s already a highly decorated career for Chaudhari.
That said, the Raid Machine, as he’s fondly known, will be one of the first to point out that a lot has changed in the kabaddi landscape of late with competition never as fierce as it’s now.
“Earlier only a handful of countries played kabaddi. But if you see the last World Cup, many teams not just participated but gave a tough fight. Teams like Iran, Korea and Pakistan have become very fierce and competitive. People have always seen India step on the mat and blow away the opponents which isn’t the case anymore,” the raider said in an exclusive chat with SportsAdda.
Despite being one of India’s indigenous sports played for decades, kabaddi finds no place on the Olympic stage as it does not meet the minimum requirement of 75 countries playing the sport across four continents to qualify for the Olympics.
Rahul Chaudhari though sounded optimistic about kabaddi attaining global recognition in the years to come and players getting an opportunity to perform at the Olympics soon.
“A good number of teams are coming forward and taking an interest in the sport which is a good sign. If you see, kabaddi as a sport is relatively inexpensive. I think for the next kabaddi World Cup we may see around 40 to 50 teams competing. And who knows by 2028 we may see kabaddi being a part of the Olympic games,” he said.
Tokyo 2020 witnessed India bag seven medals - four bronze, two silvers and a gold - to make it the country’s most successful Olympic Games, surpassing London 2012 where six medals were won.
And Rahul Chaudhari is of the opinion that should kabaddi ever be included in the Olympics, the Indian team will always be top prospects to bring home gold.
“The structure of kabaddi in India is very strong and I think we will be assured of a medal if kabaddi is part of the Olympics. I think we have the potential to win a gold medal,” Chaudhari opined.
With PKL Season 8 set to be held later this year followed by the 2022 Asian Games, the poster boy of Indian kabaddi is enthusiastically looking forward to a gruelling season ahead.
“Most of the players have been out of action for a while and need some gametime behind them. Since kabaddi is a contact sport, no ground or practice facility is open but slowly and steadily things are normalising. I am hoping we’ll have a camp soon so that everyone can come together, gel, and play as a unit,” Chaudhari said.
After underwhelming performances across the last three seasons of PKL compared to his lofty standards, Chaudhari will be determined to return to his best in the upcoming edition.
Lest we forget, despite enjoying fine campaigns on the individual front in the past, the PKL title has always eluded Chaudhari and that’s something he’ll be determined to rectify in Season 8.
Featured Photo: Prokabaddi.com