When Sushil Kumar won the Olympic bronze two years ago in Beijing, there were two schools of thought. The optimists put it down to pluck, while the cynics credited luck. When he climbed on top of the podium on Sunday to receive gold in the World Championships in Moscow, he silenced those who doubted his skills. For, gold in the World Championships is no fluke, as the world's best wrestle for a piece of yellow metal.
That he rewrote history, and became the first Indian to win gold at the World Championships only added lustre to his achievement. The man he defeated in the 66kg freestyle category — getting the better of his opponent by winning the first two rounds — was Russian Alan Gogaev.
“It's the greatest achievement by any Indian wrestler,” said Kartar Singh, secretary-general of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). “Last year Ramesh Kumar broke the 42-year-old medal jinx by winning bronze in the World Championship and now Sushil has become the first Indian to claim the top honour in the world meet.”
In the first round Sushil defeated Anastasios Akritidis of Greece and then got past Germany's Martin Sebastian Daum, Mongolia's Batzorig Buyanjav and Azerbaijan's Jabrayil Hasanov on the way to the title round.
Ever since Sushil's bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Indian wrestling's graph has been on an upward curve. Since that event, there has been no international tournament where Indian wrestlers have come home empty handed.
“Sushil has given new life to Indian wrestling and with today's performance he has added another glorious chapter to the sport. He was unlucky not to win a medal in the World Championships the last time, but this win has made up for the loss,” said G.S. Mander, president WFI.