New Delhi: Indian-origin American gymnast Raj Bhavsar won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
It has been a long and hard journey for the 28-year-old. He may not be an all American boy. But born and raised in Houston, he is living his American dream through the life he chose for himself as a gymnast.
"I was just a very active kid. I would climb up on the furniture, I would do back flips and break everything in the house. So my parents put me in a gymnastics class and I juts fell in love with it," reveals Bhavsar.
He loves gymnastics and lives it. But his ultimate dream of competing at the Olympics in American colours was one that had to wait years to be realised.
"I tried for the Olympics three times. The first time I was young, second time I was supposed to make it but I didn't. That was kind of low blow in my career. So I decided to try again and them in 2008 I was named the alternate and only at the last minute did I get a call to go to Beijing," says Bhavsar.
The timing was just right. An unexpected but well earned bronze medal for Team USA meant Raj became only the third Indian-American ever to win an Olympic medal.
"It was great. It was dream come true and to see him on the podium over there and competing... this is what he wanted to be. It was thrilling, it was exciting. It was an unbelievable experience. We were all very, very happy for him," says his mother Surekha Bhavsar.
In India to meet his family, Bhavsar has also spent time with young gymnasts across the country who aim for glory just like him. He has been busy giving them words of advice and handy tips.
"Hopefully my accomplishment can serve as an inspiration to all the Indian gymnasts that it can be done," he hopes.
With plans of working with Indian gymnasts after retiring, Raj Bhavsar is definitely one man the country will be hearing from soon.
(With inputs from Ajay)