Like any new bride, Savi would have dreamt that her first year of marriage would be one long honeymoon period. Instead, she spent the time in penance and prayers, at times upset and irritated but keeping up the faith.
That single-minded devotion paid off on Sunday when her illustrious husband Sushil Kumar became the first Indian to win two individual Olympic medals.
Savi and the world champion were married last year, but they spent just 45 days together before Sushil, gearing up to train for the London Olympics, took an oath of celibacy, to live the life of a hermit himself, at his training base in the Sport Authority of India’s Sonepat centre. After Sushil overcame a shoulder injury to qualify for the Games in April, he went home for just one day! And that was to sign some documents before returning to his base in the evening. Often, Sushil did not even take calls from Savi.
So, did she feel angry, miserable? “Often he never used to take my calls, and it irritated me the most. At times I used to get upset. After all, we have been married only for a year,” Savi said after all that sacrifice paid dividends on Sunday. However, it helped that Savi is the daughter of Sushil Kumar’s mentor and coach Satpal and thus was more understanding than someone from a different background would have been.
“Being from the sports background, I understood. After all, he was on an Olympic mission,” Savi said. “But after a while, whenever he got time he used to call me,” she added, laughing.
Savi flew down to London on August 10 to cheer the wrestler.
“I am really happy. I have no words to describe the moment,” she said after Sushil made it to the final. “After coming here, I spoke to him just once, and that too for two minutes on Saturday night. I just asked him about his final preparation and he said, he is all set for it. And he did it.”
Did she feel upset when people suggested that Sushil was distracted by his marriage, after failing to qualify for the Games in his first attempt? “I knew the reports were totally baseless but it did leave a bad taste. He was struggling with shoulder injury and he never disclosed it to the media. But once he got fit he made it to the Games easily. The medal will now silence the detractors.”
How does she feel being married to an Indian sporting icon? “No words to express the feeling. But one thing I can say is that Sushil is a very humble person and the achievement will never go to his head. I really love his humility.”