Mental training helped Sunil Kumar immensely in rewriting history and it has again come to the aid of the 87kg Greco-Roman Asian champion in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hailing from the Daburpur village of Sonipat district in Haryana, Sunil overcame his negative approach and focused on pre-match preparation to bring home an Asian Greco-Roman title after 27 years in Delhi last month.

The postponement of the Asian Olympic qualifier this month may not have come as a welcome development for an in-form Sunil, but the 21-year-old is not disheartened by the turn of events.

“My confidence is high after becoming the Asian champion. It is true that it would have been good (had the Olympic qualifier happened as per schedule). But every wrestler was trying to do his best and the situation is the same for everybody,” Sunil told Sportstar .

READ|DSP Joginder Sharma on the frontline of the coronavirus fight

“The positive side is the delay gives me extra time to work on my game and iron out my weaknesses.”

Despite being restricted to his home in the time of lockdown, Sunil, backed by Lakshya Sports, has become mentally stronger to make the most of the present situation. “Without any sparring partner, right now I am training on my own – doing running, dumbbell, rope exercises and other equipment available at home. I am sticking to my schedule of training twice a day.”


Mental conditioning and peak performance coach Dr. Swaroop Savanur, who turned Sunil around, said, “Right now, I am telling him to ‘de-focus’ from his game completely. I am also working with him on certain visualisation techniques and short-term goals.” 

Sunil – who had a poor outing in the World championships in Nur-Sultan last year – raised his game, especially his ground wrestling, to shine in the Asian championships. He wants to improve his game further to achieve bigger targets.

READ| Sushil: ‘Let people write me off, I am preparing for 2021 Tokyo now’

“I need to work on my endurance, ground and standing wrestling. I remember the advice of Pappu Yadav (the last Asian champion from the country in Greco-Roman style), who told me to stick to my strength.

“My latest world ranking (No. 4) boosts my confidence and makes me believe that I can be World No. 1 one day,” said Sunil.