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Sushil Kumar reveals he was advised to retire after Beijing Olympics

Sushil won a bronze medal in the 66kg category at the Beijing Olympics.

sushil kumar
Sushil Kumar - The Pride of India

In a shocking revelation made by two-time Olympics medallist Sushil Kumar in the book ‘My Olympic Journey’, written by noted sports journalist Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose, the wrestler recalled that he was advised to retire after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won a bronze medal in the 66kg category. He was told by his well-wishers to hang up his boots and retire on a high after coming back triumphantly from Beijing, which shocked him and left him shaken.

He mentioned that he only learnt the finer intrinsic details of the sport of wrestling after winning the bronze medal, and did not listen to those who wanted him to quit as he worked with full passion, determination and vigour on his skills which helped him go one better in the London Olympics 2012 where he clinched the silver medal.

"I returned to India (after Beijing Games) and was told by my well-wishers to bow out on a high and retire. I was flabbergasted. After all these years, I had finally realized what it meant to be an Olympic medallist and what was needed to achieve that goal. It was only after winning the Olympic bronze that I grasped the finer points of wrestling, such as how to hold an opponent, various techniques and strategies for different fights. It was the start, not the end,” the wrestler said.

Initially, he did not understand the magnitude of winning the medal at Beijing. It was only after coming back home that he realised the magnitude of breaking India’s 52-year jinx in wrestling at the Olympics. Although the gold has eluded him so far, Sushil feels fortunate enough to have had two podium finishes at the Olympics, a feat that no individual Indian had achieved before him.

"I frankly did not understand the magnitude of what I had just achieved.

"...I wasn't aware till then that a 52-year jinx on Indian wrestling had been ended with my medal. I learnt that KD Jadhav had previously won a medal in Helsinki in 1952. I was happy being an Olympic medallist, but the true worth of the medal would be realized only when I came home.

"In Beijing, a lot of my fellow athletes, officials and coaches congratulated me, but I was used to seeing so many medallists walk around the Village that I did not truly comprehend the weight of my achievement,” he said.

Sushil remembered the American coaches and wrestlers who motivated him along with his Indian counterparts to get back on his feet and give his best on the mat, as he was suffering from frequent bouts of vomiting and loose motions which had weakened him, on that fateful day in London where he had his match for the gold medal.

He recollected that the American coach had helped him a lot in his preparations for the final in London, a gesture he will never forget in his life.

Sushil believes that the cynicism that Indians are only happy with the honour of participating in the Olympics ended in London 2012, where the Indian contingent won 6 medals. He said he has a lot of hopes from this generation of wrestlers, who go on the mat with aspirations of winning a gold medal at the Olympics, as his generation only dreamed of being an Olympian.

He’s also happy to see a change in the mentality of young sportsmen from every game, who now train hard to make their country proud in various international events and shed a lot of blood and sweat to win a medal for India. 

Sushil’s dreams of taking part in the Rio Olympics have hit a roadblock and he has been asking for a trial with Narsingh Yadav, another talented wrestler, to decide who is more deserving to represent India at the Olympics and take the lone spot in the 74 kg category in wrestling at the Rio Olympics 2016.

The wrestler is also seeking an appointment with PM Narendra Modi for his intervention in the matter.

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