"Even I gave walkovers as a junior wrestler," says Sushil Kumar on National Championships controversy
Sushil received three walkovers from the quarters to the final on his way to the gold medal.
Wrestling icon Sushil Kumar was crowned national champion on Friday in the 74 kg category, with the Nationals crown being his first since 2008. Making his comeback to competition after a long gap of three years, Sushil's win was marred by controversy after he fought just two out of his five bouts as he received walkovers from his opponents in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
The news and manner of his victory became a hot topic on social media, with many fans criticizing the nature of the win and calling it unsportsmanlike. There were many calls made for the banning of the three wrestlers who surrendered without a fight and many people, including Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar, appealed to Sushil to return the medal.
However, the wrestler made no such move and stated that there was nothing he could do if his opponents did not want to fight him. Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Sushil also revealed that he had done the same when he was a junior wrestler.
"Not fighting a senior wrestler in tournaments is something that comes out of respect. When I was a junior, even I gave walkovers to my seniors. It's nothing new or surprising," said Sushil.
He added that it was a good thing for him that he did not have to fight and receiving the walkovers will help remain fit as he looks to return to peak form ahead of the international events lined up next year.
"There is always a risk of injury in such fights and I am glad I did not have to compete," he said. "Now, I can focus on getting better and this win will be a boost for me as we have important tournaments starting in March 2018."
When asked to comment on Farhan Akhtar's remarks, which asked the grappler not to accept the gold medal, Sushil refused to do so. "It is someone's personal opinion," he said, before adding, "I am no one to make a comment on another person's views."