The star of the show at the Asian Wrestling Championship on Thursday was undoubtedly Olympic bronze-medallist Sushil Kumar. He was greeted by thunderous applause every time he took to the mat at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, and Sushil didn’t disappoint his fans.
If the burden of expectation was weighing on his muscular shoulders, it most certainly didn’t show. An astounding run of bouts saw him getting the better of opponents from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and North Korea on way to the final.
When he faced off against Kim Dae-sung of South Korea in the 66kg freestyle final, Sushil hadn’t conceded a point. And he took that tremendous form and concentration with him till the end, bagging the gold, and maintaining his flawless record.
The crowd at the stadium was unanimous in its opinion that Sushil had matured in the last couple of years. Neither did he underestimate any of his opponents, nor did he let the pressure get the better of him. The maturity was even reflected in his post-match comments.
When someone asked the Rajiv Gandh Khel Ratna awardee whether he felt disappointed at not receiving the Padma Shri, he said, “I was a little disappointed at not being awarded the Padma Shri, but I hope it will come at some point if I keep working hard and winning medals for the country.”
His next target? “We are hosting the Commonwealth Games and nothing is better than winning on home soil. My coaches have made a plan for the Games and we are training hard. Gold at the Games is definitely the next target,” said the Asian champion.
Meanwhile, Rajiv Tomar missed out on a broze in the super-heavyweight (120kg) freestyle category. Tomar made it to the repechage final, where he lost to Iran’s Azarshakib S. Mohammad. In the 55kg category, Rahul Aware lost to South Korea’s Lee Woo Ju, in the quarterfinal. Lee went on to win the bronze.