Sushil Kumar is one of the most renowned wrestlers India has ever produced. The 37-year-old grappler has brought home a lot of glory for the nation.
He has won various prestigious honors and is quite easily the most decorated wrestler in the country.
It is strange how life can take a wild turn sometimes. Sushil Kumar was arrested on Monday by the Delhi Police for his alleged involvement in a murder case. From being in the limelight for his sporting achievements to recently garnering eyeballs for all the wrong reasons - Sushil Kumar's story has taken an unthinkable turn.
It is also ironic that one of India's finest wrestlers was arrested on World Wrestling Day.
The entire sports fraternity is still in utter disbelief over how things have unfolded. However, it does not take away Sushil Kumar's contributions towards Indian sports. Here is a look back at the top 5 sporting achievements that have defined Sushil Kumar's career:
1. Winning Bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Sushil Kumar ended India's long wait for an Olympic medal in wrestling. He clinched the Bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Men's 66 kg Freestyle category. The ace grappler defeated Kazakhstan's Leonid Spiridonov 3:1 in the Bronze medal match.
Sushil Kumar's feat ended India's medal drought in the Olympics in wrestling. Before this, India's last medal in wrestling came way back in the 1952 Summer Olympics. This was when Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav had bagged a Bronze in Men's Freestyle Bantamweight during the Games in Helsinki.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics were also memorable for two historic medals - Vijender Singh's Bronze in Men's Middleweight Boxing and Abhinav Bindra's gold medal in Men's 10 m Air Rifle in Shooting.
2. Winning Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2009
In 2009, Sushil Kumar was conferred with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award (joint). It is India's highest sporting honor. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) awards it to the Indian sportsperson who has a spectacular performance in the field of sports over four years (at an International level).
Although it is usually awarded to only one athlete in a year, exceptions can be made. In 2009, Sushil Kumar shared the honor with veteran Indian pugilists Vijender Singh and Mary Kom.
Kumar's coach, Satpal Singh was also awarded the Dronacharya Award for his outstanding contribution in training the Olympian.
3. Bagging gold at the 2010 World Championships
Sushil Kumar made history when he won the World Title in wrestling in 2010. The Olympian was up against Russia's Alan Gogaev in the final of the 66 kg Men's freestyle. He put up a stellar performance to defeat his Russian counterpart 3-1 and lay his hands on the elusive gold.
The 2010 World Wrestling Championships were indeed special for India's entire sporting fraternity. Kumar's achievement inspired many youngsters to take up the sport in the country. In fact, to this date, Sushil is the only Indian to become a World Champion in wrestling.
4. Claiming silver at the 2012 London Olympics
The upward trajectory of Sushil Kumar's emphatic career continued after he clinched a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Japanese wrestler Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu managed a 4-1 victory over the Indian in the final. Nonetheless, even bagging Silver at the global sporting extravaganza was no small feat. In fact, no other Indian wrestler has managed to win a Silver at the Olympics apart from Sushil Kumar.
Another reason why it was a memorable Games for Sushil Kumar was that he was the Olympic flag bearer for India during the opening ceremony.
5. Clinching three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games
Sushil Kumar also holds the significant record of winning three consecutive gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. His first gold came at the 2010 edition in Delhi after he defeated South Africa's Heinrich Barnes in the Men's 66 kg Freestyle final. The Indian defeated Barnes 7-0 in what was a thumping win at home.
Kumar's next gold came at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The veteran competed in the 74 kg category, where he defeated Pakistan's Qamar Abbas 8-0 in the final to lay hands on the yellow metal.
Sushil Kumar's third gold in the Commonwealth Games came during the 2018 edition in Gold Coast, Australia. It was another extravagant win for Kumar as he defeated South Africa's Johannes Botha in the final.
His feat of winning 3 consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medals is nothing short of incredible.
Considering the recent events surrounding Sushil Kumar's arrest, the image of Indian sports is bound to take a bad hit. Sushil Kumar was looked at as a role model and a God-like figure by India's aspiring wrestlers.
Sushil Kumar was considered to be amongst the most polite, simple, and down-to-earth personalities. It is baffling how things have taken such a dark turn. As the investigation continues, it will be too early to jump to conclusions. Regardless, the image of the Olympic veteran Sushil Kumar has certainly been tainted.