Mumbai: Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning wrestler Rahul Aware equates the level of competition in the Asian Games to Olympics in the light-weight categories.
Most past medal winners in Olympics in the lower-weight classes belonged to Asian countries, he points out.
"Before this, I have a gold in Junior Asian (championships), a rank in the Senior Asian (championships) and have played 7-8 Asian Championships. Asian players have been medal winners in 55-60 kg category in the past Olympics, so Asian Games are like Olympics," Aware told PTI on Thursday.
"Check the results in the light-weight category at Olympics -- Japan, Korea, the countries which have been carved out of Russia and are in Asia -- you see players from these countries as medallists in light-weight categories. When one becomes an Asian Champion, he is a contender for an Olympic medal," he explained.
"Be it any Games, CWG or Asian or Olympics, Games are Games and every athlete comes prepared. The trials before the Games are much harder, to win in the trials is harder than winning in the Games. So in that regard, the CWG gold will be helpful in the Asian Games as after a long time I succeeded in a big tournament," added Aware, who won the gold on his CWG debut in Australia.
Aware, who hails from Beed in Maharashtra, fought through pain to claim the biggest triumph of his career.
He prevailed 15-7 over Canada's Steven Takahashi in an exciting contest in the 57 kg freestyle class category during which the Indian was troubled by a groin niggle but chose to carry on with more than a minute left on the clock.
Aware said he was mulling to train in Georgia ahead of the Asian Games in August.
The Pune-based wrestler said only his practice had helped him to bag the yellow medal at the Gold Coast games.
"I had prepared for the CWG for long. It is a proud moment to win a medal in the Games, as athletes from different nations come well-prepared," he said.
Aware trains with veteran wrestler Kaka Pawar in Pune and used to train with ace wrestler Harishchandra Birajdar till the latter's death. Aware's father, a former wrestler, inspired him to take up the sport.