For grappler Sushil Kumar, it was a mission accomplished at Beijing. But the reticent wrestler, who returned to a tumultuous welcome at the IGI Airport and his village Baprola, life’s all about setting higher goals, and his next goal is to clinch gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
HT caught up with him at his akhara in the Chhatrasal Stadium and asked him about his accomplishment, plans and newfound glory.
What was on your mind when you left for Beijing?
Like every other sportsperson, I also went there hoping for a medal and I am thankful to my coaches, who helped me achieve the target.
What was your reaction when you won the bronze-medal bout. Were you surprised?
My first reaction was mission accomplished. I was not surprised on the victory, as I knew I had the potential. Some of the photographs at the time of the medal ceremony show me covering my face in disbelief. But that’s not the case as I was only wiping off the sweat.
After your opening bout and the repechage round there was a gap of four-five hours. What was going through your mind then?
After my first bout in the morning, the coach asked me if I wanted to go back to the Games Village and come back refreshed. I refused. During the repechage, I fought three bouts in 45 minutes and in between bouts, I kept reminding myself that I could do it.
After bagging the medal, you stayed in Beijing for five days. What did you do?
The next day after winning the medal, I did practice in the morning. In the evening, I spend time in the Olympics Village. I followed the same routine till I returned home.
Practice on the very next day after winning the medal…you didn't want to enjoy your medal?
I did running, skipping, etc this morning too. I am attending felicitation functions and enjoying my victory too. I haven’t got the time to meet my parents properly.
Any endorsements or advertisement offers?
Till now, I haven't got any advertisement offers, but if I get I will see what I can do.
Now that you are getting hefty cash awards, what are you planning to do with them?
My parents can tell you better about it. I am a wrestler and my job is to do well in the sport. Earlier also, my parents were taking care of other things.
What was the difference in your preparations for Beijing vis-a-vis Athens?
Everything was almost the same. The only thing I worked on more this time was speed. In Athens, my competition was spread over two days, but in Beijing it was a single-day affair. So, I practiced keeping this aspect in mind.
Apart from the Olympic bronze, what is your second best achievement?
Every win is important for a sportsperson, but my 2001 Senior Nationals title was very special, as at that time I was a junior participating in the senior category for the first time.
In the next 10-15 days, I will start practicing in full swing. The next aim is to win gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games as we are hosting it. I don't want any outsider to take away the gold.