Sushil exudes confidence

Target London… Sushil Kumar is India's best hope for a medal in wrestling at the 2012 Olympics.-S.S. KUMAR

The Beijing Games bronze medallist is not only optimistic about qualifying for the London Olympics but also returning with a medal. “Definitely, I will not be found wanting in terms of hard work and determination,” he says in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

He won a bronze medal in wrestling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is still India's best hope for a medal in the sport at the 2012 London Olympics.

Sushil Kumar's intense desire to be in the big league is reflected in the excellent fitness levels he maintains. He aims to bring glory to the country again.

It was a pleasant sight watching a number of fans walking over to the champion wrestler — who was the guest of honour at the valedictory function of the India style National Wrestling Championship in Hyderabad recently — seeking his autograph and a photograph with him.

Interestingly enough, the National Championship was held at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, which had hosted many a cricketing battle in the past.

“Honestly, I am thrilled with this crowd response for this wrestling Nationals. This shows that, if there are competitions at different levels across the country, there would be many who will enjoy the bouts,” said Sushil.

“I can't paint a negative picture completely when people ask me if wrestling has got the desired fillip after I won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. But, definitely, more needs to be done. It is imperative to not only take the sport to the rural areas, but also get the events maximum publicity. Only then the young talent will sustain their interest (in wrestling),” the 28-year-old wrestler explained.

“For instance, if there is a champion at the State-level in a meet held in a rural area and he doesn't even see his name in the local media, his interest is bound to suffer. So every event organiser should pay equal attention to the publicity part and ensure that there is a good coverage of these meets so that the youngsters stay in the sport for long,” Sushil remarked.

Talking of his preparations for the London Olympics, Sushil exuded confidence. He was not only optimistic about qualifying for the Games but also returning with a medal. “Definitely, I will not be found wanting in terms of hard work and determination,” he said.

According to Sushil, the Asian Championship in Kazakhstan in March is the first big event ahead of the Olympics. “And there are two more qualifying events in China and Finland in May within a short time of each other. I will be training for one month in the U.S. as part my preparations for the Olympics,” he said.

“I am confident of making up for the lost time in the run-up to the London Olympics,” he added.

Referring to his training in the U.S., Sushil said that the Indian contingent, which also includes the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Yogeshwar Dutt, will be based in Colorado Springs.

“The emphasis during our U.S. training programme will certainly be on endurance. We will also be training with some of the best U.S. and Cuban wrestlers,” he added.

Sushil always looks to his coach Satpal Singh in his endeavour for excellence. The wrestler, who missed the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou because of a shoulder injury and bowed out in the second round of the World Championship in early 2011, revealed that his coach has already charted out a programme keeping in mind the London Olympics.

On roping in the JMD Group to promote wrestling in a big way in Asia, Sushil said: “Yeh to badi achi baath hai (it is a very good thing). Such things are important for any sport and more so for wrestling which still doesn't attract too many people in big cities.

“The fact that India will be hosting the 2012 Wrestling Grand Prix and another international event in 2013 augurs well for the sport.”