Uncertainty has been the key word of 2013 for Sushil Kumar. The wrestler, who has been nursing a shoulder injury, seemed on course to make a comeback at the Budapest World Championships in September. However, he had to pull out at the last minute owing to fitness issues.
Off the mat too, uncertainty dogged Sushil. First, wrestling was dropped from the 2020 Olympic Games and then the international wrestling body, FILA, decided to do away with his weight-class (66-kg) from the 2016 Olympics, thereby forcing Sushil, who won the bronze medal at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012, to contemplate a life-altering change.
“I spent a lot of time last year thinking about how to emerge from the injury and get back to competing on the world stage again,” Sushil told MiD DAY yesterday. A fit-again Sushil admits that he can’t wait for 2014 to begin.
“I have fully recovered from the shoulder injury. There are a lot of big competitions this year like the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (July), the World Championships in Tashkent (September)and the Incheon Asian Games (September-October). So my focus is on doing well and winning a medal for the country,” he said.
However, it seems likely that Sushil’s biggest challenge in the coming year will to be adapt to the new weight-class. While his coach Satpal Singh believes he should compete in the 65-kg category, another coach Yashvir Singh wants the grappler to move up to the 74-kg category. For now, however, that is the last thing on Sushil’s mind as he prepares for his first event since the 2012 London Olympics.
He said: “I have not decided yet whether I will compete in 65-kg or 74-kg. I, along with my coaches, will make a decision after the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament at the end of January.
Switching to either weight-class will not be easy as many alterations will have to be made. One thing is for sure, because of this rejigging, the level of competition will increase. But I will manage.” Of that, he is certain.