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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Praveen Kumar scripts history, becomes first Indian man to bag gold in wushu World Championship

Praveen had earlier defeated Uzbekistan’s Khasan Ikromov 2-0 in the semifinal on Tuesday to set up the summit clash with Diaz.

other-sports Updated: Oct 23, 2019 22:45 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Praveen Kumar
Praveen Kumar(Twitter)

A “good homework”, says Army’s wushu coach Singam Sunildatta Singh, helped Praveen Kumar clinch gold in the men’s 48kg sanda event at the 15th World Wushu Championships in Shanghai, China.

Kumar defeated Russel Diaz of the Philippines 2-1, thus becoming the first Indian male to win a world title in the sport. In the semi-finals, the 23-year-old outplayed Uzbekistan’s Khasan Ikromov 2-0.

In 2017, Pooja Kadian became the first female to win the world title (75kg). Wushu sanda is a martial art, which includes kickboxing, punches and wrestling.

After winning silver in the 2016 Asian Championships, Kumar, who hails from Haryana, joined the Assam Regiment Centre (Shillong). The same year he won the national title. Good training at the centre, called ‘wushu node’, further helped Kumar polish his skills.

According to the coach, that is one of the reasons Kumar has remained undefeated in his weight division at the national level since 2017. He also won silver at the 2017 Asia Sanda Cup in Guangzhou, China.

In the build-up to the World Championships, Kumar trained extremely hard, according to the coach. “Sometimes, he trained more than six hours a day (in two sessions). He is good in running (endurance) and has power-packed punches. These qualities were the key to his success in the Worlds on debut,” said Singam from Shillong.

The Army team has more than 40 wushu players on its rolls and around 12 of them are internationals. “There is no dearth of sparring partners for Kumar,” added Singam.

Though Singam couldn’t accompany the team to Shanghai, he was in touch with Kumar. Before each bout, I gave him tips on how to tackle the opponent. I studied the videos of his opponents and guided him. The strategy worked smoothly and he emerged victorious,” said Singam.

Poonam (75kg) and Sanathoi Devi (52kg) won silver, while Vikrant Baliyan clinched bronze in the men’s 60kg.