ACTOR ENTREPRENEUR SPEAKER ATHLETE
I have lived the life of an elite gymnast experiencing all the joys and trials that come along with it. The 26 years spent attempting to master the sport brought me to my pinnacle moment, competing in the 2008 Olympic Games, in which I won a bronze medal. Along with an Olympic medal, my accolades include 2 world championship silver medals, 3 world cup medals, 3 U.S. national titles, 3 NCAA national titles, 11 years on the senior national team, and the creation of 2 new gymnastics skills, now called “The Bhavsar” on rings and parallel bars. The accolades, however, pale in comparison to the stories along the way.
In 2009, I retired from gymnastics and began thinking about the person I wanted to become and the path after sports.
The years in the sport taught me that gymnastics, at its highest level, is truly art in motion and that I have been an artist my whole life. Retiring from competition only fueled my passion for the arts. In 2010, I became an artist with world renown entertainment company Cirque du Soleil. As an acrobat, I had the opportunity to take my gymnastics experience and wrap an art form around it. Cirque became the perfect blend of gymnastics and theater, and an inspiration to pursue acting. I have studied acting at Playhouse West Repertory School in Hollywood under Robert Carnegie and learned a tremendous amount about the craft and life from director Martin Donovan. I currently study at LA Acting Studios with Director David Rountree. Because of acting, I feel alive as a human being.
As an entrepreneur, I work with organizations that fit my personal interest and ethical values. I have always enjoyed stories in which a simple idea became a magnificent solution to a human need. As a speaker I have been grateful to inspire audiences with my own story of Olympic triumph and the power of human will.
Some define lifestyle as the way a person lives to one’s own ability. For me, finding out how many abilities I have and how far they reach is my lifestyle and how I approach each day. I rarely sit still, and treat the world like a classroom, so I enjoy all kinds of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. I try and live my life according to the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, which is a dedication to never-ending improvement.
The Junior Years 1990 – 1999:
5 Time Texas State Champion
3 Time Regional All Around Champion
Back To Back Junior National Champion 97-98
4 years on the Junior National Team
The Elite Years 1999-2009:
1999 – 1st appearance on the Senior National Team. 1st senior international competition at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. Raj wins a team silver medal and makes the event finals on pommel horse.
1999 – Raj graduates in the top ten of his high school class and is then recruited to The Ohio State University as the number one recruit in the nation.
2000 – In his freshman year at Ohio State, Raj captures his first NCAA All American Title and is named Big Ten Freshman of The Year.
2000– Raj qualifies to his first Olympic Trials in Boston, Massachusetts and gets a standing ovation for his performance on the high bar.
2001 – As a sophomore in college, Raj captures his first NCAA Championship title on the parallel bars and finishes 2nd in the All-Around behind 2000 Olympic team member Jamie Natalie. Raj earns three more All American awards.
2001 – Raj and his teammates win the NCAA Team Competition and earn the crown as NCAA Team Champions
2001 – Raj finishes fourth at the U.S. Nationals and qualifies for his first World Championships to be held in Ghent, Belgium
2001 – Just one month after 9/11, Raj and the U.S. team edge out the competition to capture a silver medal. This was the first world medal for the U.S. Men’s gymnastics program after 20 years and unbelievably special due to recent events in the U.S.
2002 – Raj’s junior year in college is his benchmark year as he hails an undefeated individual season, winning the all around in every collegiate meet in which he competed.
2002 – Raj suffers a labrum tear to his left shoulder just two weeks before the NCAA Championships. Despite the injury, Raj competes in the NCAA Championships and wins the All Around claiming the title of NCAA All Around Champion. Raj is named NCAA Gymnast of the Year.
2003 – After being sidelined for most of 2002 due to his injury, Raj mounts a comeback in the spring of 2003. As a team captain for the second time, Raj leads his team to a 2nd place finish in the NCAA team competition. Raj finishes 2nd in the All Around and captures his 8th, 9th, and 10th All American Titles to sum up his collegiate career.
2003 – Still recovering from his injury, Raj regains a top spot at the 2003 U.S. Nationals and qualifies for his second World Championship Team.
2003 – Raj and the U.S. Team compete with exemplary form to finish in 2nd place behind the Chinese Team. The U.S. claims its second World Championship silver medal in four years.
2004 – The Olympic Year. Raj trains with new training partners and friends Paul and Morgan Hamm and Blaine Wilson, all 4 vying for a spot on the Athens Olympic team.
2004 – Raj competes exceedingly well at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Anaheim, California, hitting 11 out of 12 routines and wins the national title on Rings. Despite the performance, Raj is not selected as a member of the Olympic Team.
2004– Raj goes to Athens as an alternate and watches the Olympics from the stands, supporting his teammates as they take home the silver medal.
2005 – After the Athens games, Raj returns home with individual frustration toward the sport and life, resulting in a departure from competitive gymnastics altogether.
2006 – Raj decides to return to the sport with a new philosophy; one not defined by awards, fame, or titles, but rather to cherish the artistic value of the sport and the passion each skill brings.
2006 – Raj’s first meet back is the Winter Cup Challenge in February where he barely finishes in the top 20 overall and does not make the national team.
2006 – Raj continues to struggle with his commitment to return to gymnastics wondering if he made the right decision. He barely makes the national team at the U.S. Nationals later that year.
2006 – Raj decides to leave Columbus to move back to Houston and commit to his goal of becoming an Olympian under the guidance of Olympic Coach Kevin Mazeika. Raj’s new training partners are 2000 Olympian Sean Townsend and World Team Member Sean Golden.
2007 – At the Winter Cup in Las Vegas, Raj barely affirms his spot on the national team and finishes 3rd on rings.
2007 – At the U.S. Championships in August, Raj has a lackluster competition and loses his national team status once again, now just nine months before the games in Beijing. Overall, Raj is not where he needs to be going into an Olympic year.
2007 – Raj decides that his current mentality and training regiment isn’t working and thus decides to re-invent himself using a mind over matter approach. Raj begins studying success principles and self improvement books and incorporates the philosophies into training. He starts doing Bikram Yoga and regularly meeting with sports counselor Robert Andrews. He uses vision boards to map out his goals and devotes all 24 hours in a day toward his goal of becoming an Olympian.
2008 – Raj mounts another comeback at the Winter Cup with an outstanding competition. He finishes 2nd behind reigning Olympic Champion Paul Hamm. He also finishes 2nd on rings, 1st on vault, and 3rd on parallel bars making this Raj’s best finish at any domestic competition.
2008 – In March, Raj is invited to compete in the prestigious Tyson American Cup at Madison Square Garden, NY. Raj finishes 6th overall in the city that never sleeps.
2008 – Later that March, Raj competes with Team USA at the Pacific Rim Championships in San Jose. Team USA dominates the competition and brings home the gold medal, edging out teams from China and Japan. Raj places fourth on rings in the event finals.
2008 – The May U.S. Championships in Houston mark the first part of the Olympic selection process. Raj finishes 5th overall with a 7th place finish on parallel bars, 3rd on rings, and 3rd on vault. Raj hits 10 of his 12 routines.
2008 – One month later at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Philadelphia, Raj has a banner competition hitting all 12 of his routines with a top 2 finish on three events; rings, parallel bars, and vault, and finishes 3rd in the All-Around.
2008 – Despite such a finish, Raj is once again not selected for the Olympic Team and is named alternate for a second time in a row. Instilled with a “never give up attitude” and a focus on the enjoyment of gymnastics, Raj accepts this decision and trains with his head high.
2008 – In July, Paul Hamm concedes his position on the Olympic Team due to a broken finger suffered just two months before the Olympic Games. Raj is finally named to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and joins the squad set to compete in Beijing.
2008 – August. The U.S. Olympic Team competes in the preliminaries at the Olympic Games and finishes sixth overall, despite the injury and subsequent replacement of Morgan Hamm. Raj competes great on 5 events and the team is excited to qualify for finals. The Team is now fueled by the desire to medal, despite being shunned by the media as “rookies who wont deliver.”
2008 – August. With an entire Olympic arena chanting “U.S.A,” The U.S. Men’s Gymnastics team mounts one of the greatest gymnastics comebacks of all time, edging out the Germans for the Bronze medal, behind China (Gold) and Japan (Silver).
2008 – September. After returning from Beijing and celebrating the U.S. Men’s Team success, Raj pins his Olympic medal to the center of his vision board and with tears in eyes, marks the long awaited Olympic dream complete.