NUR-SULTAN (KAZAKHSTAN), Sept 23: Veteran wrestler Sushil Kumar says it was a mistake to head into big tournaments without enough “mat-time” and he will now compete more regularly to revive his sagging career.
In a seven-year period, between the 2012 London Olympics and the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Sushil competed in only seven tournaments.
While he won gold medals at the 2014 and the 2018 editions of the Commonwealth Games, he struggled at the Jakarta Asian Games leading to questions on whether he was good enough to go any further at 36.
He recently started to train with Russian coach Kamal Malikov in a bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics through the World Championships. He did fight better than the Jakarta Games but nonetheless exited after a first-round defeat in the 74kg category.
“I lost but I felt good on the mat. I was faster than Jakarta. I was at this championship just to announce to the world that I am getting back. And even the foreign coaches around said, ‘you look like getting back’,” Sushil told PTI in an interview.
He did show glimpses of the raw talent that made him an Olympic legend, the only one from India with two individual medals, when he twice troubled Azerbaijan’s Khadzhimurad Gadhiyev with four-point throws.
“I lack in stamina and defence as of now. My coach Malikov had said he wants 90 day-training to put me back in shape. It’s about 50 days as of now. I had put on weight and I had slowed down too.”
“But today, I have lost weight, I have become faster. The body is in competition mode. My coach says I am better from what I was two years ago,” he said.
Where did he vanish in between?
“I thought, I should play only bigger tournaments but the coach (Malikov) said no, I have to be in competition every month or in every 45 days to have enough mat-time,” he explained. – PTI