These six bridged the gap between promise and results at the Olympics. India's sporting heroes open up and talk about their challenges, the ones who guided them, how they spent their moolah and how they adjusted to their new status.
Don't fancy any Bollywood actress
1. Focus on the mat
After winning the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze, I was attending a function in Mumbai and the media asked me which Bollywood actress I liked the most. They should understand that I am a wrestler and my focus is on wrestling; I have no inclination towards any Bollywood actress.
2. I am still the same Sushil
It's all about the values I have been groomed with. I am the same Sushil Kumar I used to be before I won the Olympic medal. Because of my training and other commitments I am not able to meet people, at times. It disturbs me, and I try my best to meet everyone. I believe their blessings play an important role in my success.
3. I have got every luxury
My cousin takes care of my financial matters. Whatever money, including cash awards, I earn, I hand it over to him. Whenever I need it (money), I ask him. So, I can't say what has been my most expensive buy after winning the medal. But yes, I have got everything, from a luxury car to house.
4. Blessings matter
Had you asked me four years ago (when I won Beijing bronze), I would have given an exact number. Now, it's impossible to calculate. For me, all the functions were important, as blessings matter to me.
5. Undivided attention
Wrestling is what I have done all my life and I want it the way it is.
On the agenda: My children, academy and next challenge
1. One too many
Since the time I have arrived from the London Games, I am getting feted across the country. I am overwhelmed. But at the same time, I have also turned down some felicitations because of commitments, and that has made me uncomfortable.
2. Hubby dearest
My husband has been the greatest support. Though the Olympic medal is a big achievement, and you can say I was waiting for this day all my life. But those who know me before my London achievement will vouch that there has been no problem in handling stardom. Rather, meeting people makes me happy. I always count myself as one of them.
3. Name, fame and money
I have got everything - name, fame and money. The Olympic medal got me cash awards and flats in metropolitan cities (Noida and Bangalore). My husband takes care of financial matters. My most 'expensive purchase' is yet to be made - my world-class boxing academy, which is in the making.
4. Missing little ones
Meeting my kids after the London Games was very emotional. I just miss them. For the first month after returning, I was busy attending functions and even now I get invitations on a daily basis. But as I have started training and even have to give time to my kids, I've become choosy.
5. No child's play
I am concentrating on my academy and bringing up my children.
Don't socialise because of paucity of time
1. At ease
Whatever the situation, I am always at ease. I do not feel too uncomfortable. But when it comes to my game, maybe, after I am done with it, being in the limelight sometimes unnerves me. But, I am back to my self soon.
2. No starry airs
I am not cut out for stardom. I don't feel I am a star; I am just a badminton player. God helped me and I achieved some good results. I don't think I am special. Usually, I don't mix or socialise because of paucity of time. Otherwise, I like humour, am talkative and simple.
3. Gifts for the family.
Nothing much after the (London) Olympics except a few dresses and some shirts for my father and a few items for my niece, mother and elder sister. I replaced my cell phone with an iPhone 5. Yes, before my London feat - in May 2012 before the Thailand Open, I bought a BMW X6.
4. No embarrassments
My new sponsors are on the task. Everywhere I go, I get love and affection and that is moving. I've given a lot of interviews and attended a few felicitations. I've played several tournaments and missed a few because of my leg injury. No embarrassing moments that I can think of..
5. Young and restless
I am too young and immature to handle these responsibilities.
Driving Audi gives me immense pleasure
1. No sleep for a week
On my return from London, I was given a rousing welcome. I didn't sleep properly for almost a week because of the extended celebrations. It made me uncomfortable. Signing so many autographs at one go too seemed an uphill task, initially. At the same time, I enjoyed it (the spotlight). After all, this was all I had dreamt about when I was a junior wrestler.
2. Backroom staff
It (the success) is not a one-man show. What I have achieved is because of my family, coaches, friends and fellow wrestlers. So, it's a team that works behind the scenes, which helped me attain success. This thought helps me handle the rise to stardom better.
3. In the lap of luxury
Now, I have everything that counts as luxury. It makes me happy that I have been able to provide luxuries to my family. Earlier, I used to drive a Ford Endeavour. But things have changed after the London Games. Apart from investing in property, I own an Audi and driving it gives me immense pleasure. But I love my village life.
4. Saved by food poisoning
For a month after returning from London, I was busy attending functions, even attending three-four functions in a day. The only time I could take a break was when I had food poisoning. Even now, I keep getting invitations for functions, but because of my training, I have to miss quite a few of them.
In September, I was honoured by an akhara in Zirakpur. After the event, I had to rush to Sonepat to attend a relative's engagement. But the function stretched on because of unending speeches, and I had to interrupt the organisers. That was embarrassing. Though late, I made it to the engagement.
5. Priorities straight
As of now, I only want to concentrate on my sport. I don't want to burden my mind with such issues. My focus is solely on performing well and winning medals for the country.
The Armyman and the bear hug
1. Confidence matters
I am yet to come across a situation where I felt uncomfortable.
2. Staying grounded
It helped to have people I could fall back on…my family and friends. They stood by me like a rock through crest and trough. Their support kept me afloat when the chips were down, and they kept me grounded even when Amul's famous pictorial ad said, 'Door Gagan ke wow mein'.
3. Souvenir shop
I did not buy anything expensive, but yes took back souvenirs for my friends and family from the Games. I also love driving the Audi Q5 given by the Haryana government in appreciation of my Olympic medal.
4. Chequered moment
There have been many events I have been attending after the Games. The most interesting was waving the chequered flag at the Indian GP. The most emotional one was when a 60-year-old retired Army officer congratulated me. His eyes were filled with tears. He asked if he could just give me a hug at the airport. I could feel the warmth he had for the nation. I also received hundreds of letters from schoolchildren, and most of them depicted their joy in the form of drawings. They drew a gun (shooting), man (me) and the Indian flag.
5. Shooting is in India's DNA
Heading a federation is not an easy task. It involves looking at the bigger picture. If I were given a chance, I would take the sport to the micro level, make shooting ranges more accessible, have more trained coaches. Shooting is in India's DNA. It takes a little planning to channelise the huge talent pool.
Pistol, ammo prized possessions
1. Guts to glory
It was prior to the London Games. I had a shoulder injury and I couldn't train for 15 long days. I thought the hard work would go down the drain. At that time, my coach played a big role (in soothing my nerves). And, I was able to get out of that situation and win glory for the country.
2. Family ties
My parents helped me. They played a big role in fame not getting to my head. They advised me to take a short break and then concentrate on the future… I mean the Rio Olympics.
3. Taking aim
I imported two new weapons (pistols) to prepare for future international events, including the 2014 Asian Games. I have also ordered a huge quantity of ammunition. Being a shooter, both the pistol and ammo are prized possessions.
4. School of thought
Fortunately, there has been no occasion when I've felt out of place. Recently, when I attended a school function where I was the chief guest, I got a bit emotional after thinking of my school days.
5. If i were in-charge...
I shall make efforts to build better facilities so that top players don't face difficulties when they go for international events. I would like to build an Olympic training centre where all facilities are available under one roof. Also, I would like to build a strong base for the future. During national camps, I would encourage school and college students to interact with top players so that they get motivated to pursue sports.