After Yogeshwar Dutt provided a late boost to India’s medal collection in the 30th Olympics Games by claiming memorable bronze, India will now hope to add one more medal to its kitty on Sunday, the last day of competitions, when star wrestler Sushil Kumar, who won a bronze in Beijing, takes part in the men’s 66 kg category.
India’s ace wrestler Sushil Kumar, the flag bearer of the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony, wants to better his Beijing Games’ bronze medal winning performance in the 2012 London Olympics.
“I have to better my Beijing performance. In Athens Olympics, I came close to winning a medal. I was in good form before Athens having beaten almost all the top wrestlers. But I could not win a medal in Athens. In Beijing, not many gave me any chance. But the wrestling community had faith in me and I didn’t prove them wrong,” said Sushil Kumar.
“In my category, there are few wrestlers with whom I have not wrestled so far,” said the 29-year-old from Najafgarh in south-west Delhi. “But this is the Olympics. You will have to be prepared for anything,” he added. “People back home have lot of expectation not only from me but from other wrestlers as well. This is a very good sign.
“Every wrestler has to change his style and technique regularly. It helps to keep the opponent guessing. Change was badly needed. My opponents are watching my videos everyday and they can easily analyse my fighting technique. It is important to change style regularly. It was a tactical decision and I hope it will work at the Olympics,” Sushil said, adding that he decided to change his style after he failed to defend his World Championship title last year.
“You will not find the Indian wrestlers wanting in the ring. We are determined to give our best. But then, it is sports. Nothing can be predicted for sure.”
The son of a bus driver, who was himself a wrestler, Kumar was inspired to take up the sport by his cousin Sandeep.
However, Sandeep quit wrestling because the family could support just the one wrestler and it was a decision that went on to be rewarded with bronze in Beijing, world championship gold in Moscow and a Commonwealth Games gold medal on home soil in Delhi two years ago.
Whether Kumar does stand atop the podium in London, or not, he has already had a huge impact upon wrestling, a sport with deep roots in India but one, like many others, that has been overshadowed by the country’s obsession with cricket.