Strange to participate as an independent athlete: Sushil Kumar

The World Wrestling Championships, to be held from September 16 at Budapest, will see India’s double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar back in action after a one-year injury lay-off.

Sushil Kumar
India’s Sushil Kumar with the national flag after winning gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Pic/AFP

The star grappler, who has not participated in any international tournament since his silver medal-winning exploits at the London Olympics, said: “I am ready for the World Championships at Budapest. My shoulder injury has healed.” The 30-year-old will join the rest of the 22-member Indian squad in Budapest today.

While Kumar is ready to participate at the highest level again, it will not be the same feeling this time around, thanks to the Indian Olympic Association’s suspension from the International Olympic movement.

“This is the first time that I will be participating as an independent athlete. It will be a strange feeling to be competing knowing that even if I win, the national anthem will not play at the stadium. We athletes play for the country and winning medals as independent athletes will take away some sheen from the victory,” Kumar lamented.

However, the Indian wrestling fraternity, and Sushil in particular, have been buoyed by the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games, announced on Sunday at the International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires.

“The kids training at akharas with an eye on the 2020 Games are very happy with the sport’s return to the Olympic fold. Until now, they were practicing with doubt in their minds, but not anymore. The news has also given a boost to the wrestlers who are training for the World Championships in Budapest right now,”¬†Kumar added.¬†

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