Even as wrestlers world over remain unsure of their Olympic future, with the International Olympic Committee having dropped the sport from the 2020 Olympic Games a few months ago, star grappler Sushil Kumar is a relaxed man.
That’s because the London Olympics silver medallist is confident the sport will be included at the 2020 Games.
“There are full chances of wrestling coming back into the Olympic fold. The IOC has sent letters to 175 wrestling bodies across the world asking them to tone down their protests (against the sport’s exclusion from the 2020 Olympics). They have also assured the national wrestling bodies that wrestling will be brought back.
“If you have noticed, the protests from wrestlers have reduced drastically of late. There will be another meeting held soon. I think wrestling will be brought back in that meeting,” Kumar, in the city to watch the Super Fight League’s (SFL) Friday night action, told MiD DAY yesterday.
Kumar recalled how he had to go around the country convincing grapplers not to lose hope after IOC’s decision in February. “The motivation levels and enthusiasm among our wrestlers, especially kids who were training with an eye on the 2020 Olympics, had completely gone down. India would have been the worst affected country (if that happened) as wrestling has seen us win three medals in the last two Olympics. So, Yogeshwar Dutt (London Games bronze medallist) and I visited a number of akhadas and wrestling centers assuring kids that the sport will be back,” the 2008 Beijing bronze winner explained.
The advent of the Indian Wrestling League (IWL), slated to begin in November this year, is another positive for the sport. “The IWL will benefit India’s wrestlers greatly. We’ll get all the exposure and competitions needed right here in our home,” Kumar said.
While it remains to be seen if the IWL gains popularity among the masses, a sport that has caught numerous eyeballs of late, is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) what with the SFL already doing well in India and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) planning to be here soon. Kumar felt MMA is a viable career option.
“I will advise anyone, who is unsuccessful in wrestling or boxing to consider MMA as it is a good career option,” said Kumar, who is coy of taking up the sport himself though.