Doing an encore in London is not something that Sushil Kumar wants to lose his sleep over, but the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist has assured to put in the hard yards to ensure a podium finish in the upcoming Olympics.
"I don't want to put any unnecessary pressure on me by thinking about the medal. It will hamper my performance in the Olympics. If you think about medal, you are bound to feel the pressure. My aim is to give my best on the mat," Sushil told PTI during an exclusive chat at the SAI Centre here.
The grappler, however, added that he has gained in experience since the last Olympics and wants to improve upon his previous showing.
"The bronze medal at Beijing, four years ago, has certainly added to my confidence and I am determined to improve my previous Olympic record," said Sushil.
He also denied reports that he will retire after the London Games.
"As long as my body supports me, I'll keep on performing for my country."
Sushil said the camp at Colorado Springs has helped the wrestlers improve their speed and stamina.
"The camp at Colorado Springs was very helpful as far as our preparation for the Olympics is concerned. Two-three top European nations were there and we got to test our skills against them. The camp is situated at a high altitude and that was an added benefit. "We focused on speed, stamina, endurance and foot movement. I am feeling physically and mentally fit for the Olympics. The camp happened at the right time for the Olympic-bound wrestlers," he added.
Talking about their upcoming conditioning cum-training camp at Belarus ahead of the London Games, the 66-kg freestyle wrestler said, "In the upcoming camp, the focus would on improving the technical aspects of the game."
Asked how it feels to be leading the Indian contingent at the Games, Sushil said, "I am happy that I have been given the responsibility of carrying the tri-colour during the opening ceremony. "This will definitely raise the profile of the game in the country. This is the first time that a wrestler will shoulder the responsibility of carrying the national flag and I am feeling really proud about it. "It will also inspire the future generation of wrestlers to come. This has come as an added responsibility and it will motivate me to give my 100 per cent at the Olympics."
Sushil, meanwhile, said that all five Olympic-bound Indian wrestlers are capable of plucking a medal at the Games. "All five Indian wrestlers, who have qualified for the Olympics, are capable of bringing glory to the nation. Yogeshwar, in particular, has been in good stead and I am hopeful that he will finish at the top in this Olympics."
Asked who would pose a tough challenge to their medal prospects, he said, "Japan, Russia, USA, Ukraine will be tough to beat." He, though, added that if the day was right, our athletes can go past any challenge.
Asked about his USP, the 29-year-old said, "My coaches feel that in my particular category, I have more power and stamina as compared to other wrestlers of the same category."
Sushil, meanwhile, insisted that a proper support staff should accompany the wrestling team to London. "The support staff is very important, particularly in a physical game like wrestling. So I hope a proper support staff, essentially a physio should accompany the team during an important event," he said.
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