Wrestling’s survival as an Olympic sport after 2016 will be known only in the next couple of months, but that has hardly deterred two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar from broadening his role in the sport.
The London Games silver-medallist will be supported by Olympic Gold Quest in the run up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and will also double up as an advisor on OGQ’s board for wrestling.
“Playing the role of a mentor as well as a wrestler is not a new phenomenon for me. I have been doing that at our training centre with 15-20 young wrestlers,” said Sushil yesterday.
“It actually helps me ease my tension. I feel that if you take the responsibility as a chore, you can never justify the dual role. I believe in enjoying the process of mentoring as it helps me evolve as a person too.”
Sushil is glad that he no longer has to worry about his training, physiotherapy and medical assistance with OGQ signing him on. “I am aware that after winning back-to-back medals at the Olympics, expectations will soar in Rio. My target is to win the elusive gold there. I know that I need to work twice as hard, but I don’t want to succumb to pressure,” he said.
‘Careers at stake’
Currently the 30-year-old star grappler is training for the upcoming World Championships to be held in Hungary in September. “I am keen to do well in Hungary. For that I will be going to the USA and Belarus for exposure training.”
Sushil said that like other wrestlers around the world, he too is eagerly awaiting the International Olympic Council’s decision on wrestling’s future as an Olympic discipline.
“I am hopeful that wrestling will stay in the Olympics. God forbid, if it doesn’t make a comeback, India will be affected the most. Careers of thousand of junior wrestlers will be at stake.”
Nevertheless, Sushil has seen a silver lining even in wrestling’s most difficult phase. “I got to know about the popularity of the sport during this crisis. I got calls from across the world when the news about wrestling being dropped from the Olympic fold broke,” said Sushil who is planning to open a world-class wrestling academy in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh soon.
OGQ meanwhile, will also be supporting another promising wrestler Praveen Rana who contests in the 74kg free
Want to come out of Saina’s shadow, says shuttler Sindhu
Having won the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in Kuala Lumpur last month, India’s rising shuttler PV Sindhu wants to focus on improving her consistency in the coming months. “Beating London Olympics gold medallist Li Xuerui of China is definitely the best moment of my career so far,” said Sindhu, before adding: “It’s important to maintain my momentum in order to challenge the best players.”
Ever since her emergence, Sindhu has been compared to Saina Nehwal. But that has not put any extra pressure on the 17-year-old. In fact she has liked the comparison. “It feels nice when people say that I am the next Saina. But now I want to come out of her shadow and prove my own mettle,” she said.
Sindhu seems to be facing the same problem that dogged Saina in her formative years: not enough quality sparring partners at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad. As a result she has been training with talented players in the men’s circuit, Prannoy HS, K Srikanth, Sai Praneeth among others.