Sushil wrestles his way to bronze medal | india | Hindustan Times
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Sushil wrestles his way to bronze medal

Sushil Kumar, who started sport under Mahabali Satpal in Chatrasaal Stadium, never for once stopped dreaming of getting on the podium at the Olympics. Indraneel Das reports.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2008 23:47 IST
Indraneel Das

Najafgarh has another hero. One whose rise reads like a fairytale. Sushil Kumar, who started sport under Mahabali Satpal in Chatrasaal Stadium, never for once stopped dreaming of getting on the podium at the Olympics.

When he got a second life in repechage, to take a crack at the medal in 66kg freestyle here at the Beijing Agriculture University on Wednesday, he grabbed it with both hands. Grappling for four rounds in 75 minutes, Shushil managed to beat Doug Schwab (USA), Albert Batyrov (Belarus) and the losing semi-finalist Leonid Spiridonov (Kazakhstan), after losing to Andriy Stadnik in the second round.

“We prepare keeping such eventualities in mind,” said his coach PR Sondhi.

Interestingly at the 2006 Doha Asian Games too, Sushil beat Leonid to win bronze.

In the last round against Leonid, Sushil grabbed early initiative by scoring two technical points that proved decisive. Despite losing the draw, Sushil managed to beat the Kazakh grappler in the third period and eventually prevailed 3-2 to trigger frenzied celebration among the Indians.

“I am speechless. I was shivering to see the flag being unfurled in the hall,” said Sushil, after the victory. As for coming here as an underdog, he said: “Sometimes it’s good not have expectations. But then I think I was able to show that even Indian grapplers are no pushovers on the world stage,” said Sushil.

“I think we can give better results if we are provided with better facilities,” he said.

Though things looked bleak after the first period, the Railway man had the grit to claw into the game in repechage.

“It was a terrible feeling to lose early. But my coach and I had enough confidence in my abilities and till the end we believed that we could win.”

Though he had to fight in four bouts, he had no complaints. “It was not easy. I had to compete in four bouts, but then even Leonid had to play in four bouts. So that was not a problem. I had not played against Doug Schwab (USA) and Albert Batyrov (Belarus) earlier. They were unknown to me.

“But once I got past them and had Leonid in front, I thought I had a chance. I told myself ‘I cannot let it go after coming so close to a medal,’’’ said Sushil.