I missed Olympic gold in London, it’s all that I want now: Sushil Kumar

1 year ago Marcus Mergulhao | TNN 0

Sushil Kumar will consider calling it a day only after winning the elusive gold medal at the Olympics, with Tokyo in 2020 being his swansong.

India’s most successful individual Olympian with two medals – a bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012 – was forced to give the Olympics in Rio a miss after the WrestlingFederation of India (WFI) handpicked World championship bronze medallist Narsingh Yadav for the 74kg quota berth. Sushil knocked on the doors of justice but eventually failed to overturn the decision.

Now, with a record third Commonwealth Games gold medal under his belt, there is no way Sushil is resting on his laurels.

“I need an Olympic gold. When I look back at the 2012 London Olympics, I feel I was very close to an Olympic gold. That is constantly playing on my mind. Even the people of this country want to see me winning the gold. They believe I can do it. I will keep trying. I have a bronze and a silver, now it’s time for gold,” Sushil told TOI in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

Sushil, now 35, will be 37 when the Olympics are next held in Tokyo. It will take quite an effort for the champion wrestler to defy the odds, but for someone who has already won two Olympic medals, and survived at the top for 20 years, no target is insurmountable.

At first, Sushil’s focus is on the fast-approaching Asian Games in Jakarta. The federation normally conducts trials to select teams for Asian Games but Sushil, along with three others, has been provided an exemption. Not surprisingly, in the fiercely competitive world of wrestling, that decision has not gone down well with his rivals.

Sushil, though, wonders why he has to still prove himself despite being at the top of his sport for almost two decades.

“Nobody becomes a champion just like that. I have given trials at the zonal level, attended Railways trials, gave a Commonwealth Games trial, got selected for championships. Now, everyone, including the federation, knows my ability. I just need everyone’s blessing so that I am able to fulfill expectations,” said Sushil.

For all his talent and achievement, Sushil has little to show at the Asian Games. He has gold medals at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Championships and Asian Championships, but at the Asiad, there is just a solitary bronze, won at Doha 2006.

“Preparations are going well (for a gold). Just like how I won the Commonwealth Games (gold) medal, I want to win a (gold) medal at the Asiad.

“I will train on my own. I have sought special permission from the federation and I am grateful to them. My coach is here, training partners are here (in Goa) too. I have a different system of working. The federation is backing me too,” said Sushil, who shot into limelight when he won the gold medal in the World Cadet Games in 1998.

Twenty years later, he is still up for a fight.

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