Nitin Tomar became the most expensive kabaddi player ever on Monday when Team UP bid Rs 93 lakh for him at the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) auctions. That was almost double the previous record set by defender Mohit Chhillar in the last season. Here's all you need to know about him:
Born in Malakpur village in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, Tomar, 21, comes from a family of wrestlers. Two of his paternal uncles, Ashok and Prahlad Tomar, were international wrestlers - a factor that made him naturally inclined to the sport as a child.
Life changed for Tomar after he moved to Maharishi Dayanand Public School, where options to practice wrestling were limited. It was then that he first took up kabaddi, though only as an informal school activity. Soon after, with promising performances in inter-school tournaments and good feedback from his teachers, Tomar took the game seriously and decided to pursue it further.
Tomar, a Petty Officer at the INS Angre unit of the Indian Navy, was part of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 3 in 2016. He shone in his debut season and the next -- with Bengal Warriors and Puneri Paltan respectively, scoring 110 raid points in 22 matches and was selected in the national team that won the Kabaddi World Cup in October.
The Kabaddi World Cup:
Tomar had had a relatively quiet World Cup till he came in on the second half of the final against Iran. India were trailing 11-12, when Tomar scored two raid points, giving them the lead - a lead that they never lost - for the first time in the match. He went on to score six raid points, his best performance in the tournament, to help the team win the World Cup for the eighth consecutive time.
What's his playing style:
Tomar is essentially a raider who plays with a strategy. He relies more on the brainwork than on power, which works well for him. During the bidding, as many as six teams bid for him, which reflects his impact as a raider in crucial situations, as seen in his performance in the Kabaddi World Cup. He is swift with his movements and has good flexibility, owing to years of practice and a wrestling background, which makes him a strong tackler too. While he hasn't defended much in the PKL, his tackling skills showed promise during the World Cup as he helped in stopping important raids attempted by the Iranian team. If given a chance and experimented well with, Tomar can prove to be an all-rounder for Team UP.
What he said:
"It's a dream come true. All my family members are happy. I am grateful to Team UP for investing in me. This is quite exciting and motivating, and it shows my team's belief in me. I am happy with the way the team is shaping up in the auction and I look forward to an action-packed Season 5."