Sushil Kumar gunning for elusive Asiad gold

Sushil Kumar, who expects a rich medal haul from Indian wrestlers, admitted that his comeback has been difficult but being positive has helped.

Sushil expects a rich medal haul from Indian wrestlers.   -  Getty Images

Sushil Kumar has been the poster boy of Indian wrestling. In his illustrious career, the star grappler has earned it all, but the only thing that has eluded him is a gold medal at the Asian Games.

And now, as the Indian contingent gets ready for the mega sporting event beginning from August 18, Sushil is leaving no stone unturned to fulfil the dreams. The 35-year-old, who was - until recently - training in Georgia, will travel back abroad to prepare himself perfectly for the Asian Games.

“All I need is blessings. I am in great form and I plan to go to Georgia right after this and train for another 10 days. I need support from the fans,” Sushil said.

On Wednesday, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) got a partner in Tata Motors for three years. While the wrestlers will don the jerseys sporting the Tata Yodha logo, the group will also support top-50 wrestlers across categories and formats. Sushil believes that this will help Indian wrestling grow further.

At the moment, his focus, however, is only on the Asian Games. “The practice has been good. Keeping the Asian Games in mind, I am working hard in Georgia. When you are participating in a tournament, you cannot think about how big or small it is. Every competition is important and there has to be adequate preparation for that,” Sushil said.

There were reports that the WFI was planning to keep a standby in the 74kg category for Sushil, following his defeat at the Tbilisi Grand Prix, last month. The grappler, however, rubbished all such claims. He insists that he opted to participate in the tournament to know his weak links.

“I was training in Poland and just participated in the Grand Prix to understand what my weak links are. One doesn't learn from wins, he learns his lessons from defeat. I learnt a few technical things and focused on keeping the timing accurate. The competition schedule is different from training schedule, so the body was not moving properly. It will come in shape before the Asian Games,” he said.

He also made it clear that he has kept the WFI in the loop about his training programme abroad and there is no truth to the reports claiming that that the federation is miffed with his approach. “I am in touch with the Federation. Everyone knows about my training. There the training method is different. If we train one day, the next day, it is all about having friendly bouts. The coaches there prepare the training plan and we do it accordingly,” he said.

While he is looking forward to a golden run, Sushil also admits that it has been difficult to return to the after a long gap. “It is tough to return to the ring after four years. Here stamina is important, so it is important to keep a balance between performance and fitness. In wrestling, it is all about being in the groove. If you stop practice for even 10 days, then it will be tough for you,” he said.

However, being positive has helped him. “I set a plan and stay motivated. There was a time I thought let's not do it again. But someone told me that there's still enough game left in me, so I started again,” he said.

With Indians in good form, Sushil expects a rich medal haul from Indian wrestlers. On personal front, he believes that training in Georgia has been fruitful because there were better sparring partners.

“The training process is not the factor but the only thing is, there you get good sparring partners. The sparring partners vary across categories. The Georgian, Azerbaijan and Turkish wrestlers become the sparring partners,” he said.

Having won a bronze in 2006 Asian Games, Sushil - who plans to continue till Tokyo Olympics - wants to break the jinx with a gold medal. And for that, all he seeks is ‘some blessings’!