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2-min read

Asiad Loss Withstanding, Retirement Not on Sushil Kumar’s Mind

Sushil Kumar’s 2018 Asian Games campaign lasted all of one bout, but in case you’re wondering whether the two time Olympic medallist is planning to hang his boots, well, the answer is no.

Suprita Das |

Updated:August 19, 2018, 6:48 PM IST
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Asiad Loss Withstanding, Retirement Not on Sushil Kumar’s Mind
Sushil Kumar’s 2018 Asian Games campaign lasted all of one bout, but in case you’re wondering whether the two time Olympic medallist is planning to hang his boots, well, the answer is no.
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Sushil Kumar’s 2018 Asian Games campaign lasted all of one bout, but in case you’re wondering whether the two time Olympic medallist is planning to hang his boots, well, the answer is no.

At the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Kumar won bronze. He was 23 then. He’d go on to win two Olympic medals, a World Championship title, the World No. 1 ranking. But ever since his silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012, it’s been a rocky road for the grappler.

The injuries and controversies have been plenty, while the achievements have dried up. He does have three gold medals to show in the 74 kg category that he chose to compete in after the London Olympics, where he won a silver in the 66 kg event. But to take his opponents in those wins, like at the Commnonwealth Games in Gold Coast this year, too seriously, would do little to the legacy of Kumar.

The worst criticism against him over the last couple of years has been his pull outs from various competitions. But at the biggest stage, Kumar wanted to compete. Always. Like the Olympics. In 2016 he was fighting a bout against Narsingh Yadav in the courts of New Delhi because he thought he deserved a trial at least, even though the younger Yadav had booked an Olympic quota by his own ability. Yadav did go to Rio eventually, but had to sit on a plane back to India before even getting to the mat thanks to a dope violation that saw him being handed a four year ban. Yadav claimed he was a victim of sabotage, and that his food had been tampered with by Kumar’s supporters.

After his one-sided loss in Jakarta, Kumar admitted his mistakes. He seemed relieved though, possibly because he had made peace with the result even before the start of the bout. It didn’t matter whether he won or lost, he’d said ahead of the competition. But clearly competing at the world stage still matters to India’s most successful individual Olympic medallist. He says he now wants to prepare for the World Championships in Bupadest this October which will also offer Olympic quotas.

"I did not expect this. I did not have any big competition under my belt and that was the main reason for my defeat. But it's part of sport. I will train harder and come back," said Sushil.

"I was not passive. I tried," he added.

Kumar’s insistence to go on competing despite his form not by his side, and his knee nowhere near 100%, is somewhat similar to another legend of Indian sports and his want to continue representing India against all odds – Leander Paes, who just two days before these Asian Games pulled out citing unavailability of a doubles specialist as his reason.

Their fans would want to remember the likes of Kumar and Paes for the unending joy and pride they’ve given fans for years. But whether their current attitudes will take a certain amount of sheen away from their achievements is something worth giving a thought.

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| Edited by: Madhav Agarwal
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