Sandeep Tomar, 25: Sandeep Tomar’s rise has been a steady one in the wrestling ranks. He began his senior career from the 55kg category and slowly moved to the 57kg category only on the insistence of his coach. After winning the gold medal in Nationals in 2011, Tomar joined the Indian Navy as an Junior Petty Officer. Tomar is not the first Olympian from his village Malakpur in Bhagpat district of UP. The village has already given three Olympians to India but none have won a medal. Tomar hopes to break the jinx after finally getting his chance ahead of Amit Dahiya, an established wrestler in the 57kg category. Tomar goes by the nick name of ‘talli’ synonymous to drunken man. On the mat, Tomar has proven that he can beat the best. After failing to qualify for World Championships last year, he participated in no other tournament but due to injury to Dahiya, became India’s first choice to Asian Championships this year. He went on to defeat a former World medallist in the final to win the title. This brought him to instant limelight. At the Olympics qualifying trails, he was second best to Rahul Aware but Aware could win a quota in Asian qualifiers, Tomar was given the next chance and he brought home a quota.
Tomar hails from a middle class family in which he is the eldest of all the siblings. He has one brother and a sister apart from his parents. Tomar began wrestling at the age of 11 years at a local akhada and won his first dangal in UP. His first sub-junior national was in 2008 and he won a gold medal in that. In the 2015 senior nationals, he won a gold in the 57kg category.
Event: Wrestling (57kg men’s freestyle)
Event date: August 18-21
Qualifying Event: Qualified from first World Olympic Qualifier in Mongolia
Career highlights: Gold medal in Asian Championships 2016, Gold in Commonwealth Championship 2013, Bronze in Dave Schultz Memorial Tournament 2014, Gold in World Military Championship 2014, Bronze in Takhiti Cup 2015