New Delhi: India's most decorated wrestler Sushil Kumar has qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which is scheduled to be held in Gold Coast, Australia between 4 and 15 April 2018.
Sushil beat Jitender Kumar in the 74 kg category in the final qualification round to seal a place at this year's competition. Sushil has been in good form recently as he won the gold medal at Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in Johannesburg.
And now, by clinching a place at the Commonwealth Games, Sushil is back onto the international arena with a bang. Sushil will now be eyeing a hat-trick at this year's games as he had won Gold Medals at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 respectively.
Apart from Sushil (74kg), other freestyle grapplers who have booked their places in the Commonwealth Games are Rahul Aware (57kg), Bajrang (65kg), Somveer (86kg), Mausam Khatri (97kg) and Sumit (125kg).
The six freestyle wrestlers also qualified for next year's Senior Asian Wrestling Championship to be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Besides, 10 Greco-Roman wrestlers also qualified for the Asian Wrestling Championships. They are Rajender (55kg), Gyanender (60kg), Vikram Kurade (63kg), Manish (67kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Harpreet Singh (82kg), Sunil (87kg), Hardeep (97kg) and Naveen (130kg).
However, the selection trials held at the IG Stadium was marred by an unfortunate incident when a brawl broke out between the supporters of Sushil and his bitter rival Parveen Rana.
Sushil won all his bouts today but things took an ugly turn when Rana, after losing to the former in the semifinal clash, claimed that the decorated wrestler's supporters beat him and his elder brother "for daring to take the ring" against him.
It’s very unfortunate and highly condemnable what has happened today at the stadium. I do not support anyone who gets violence in between sportsmanship. My aim is to fight & win for my Nation like a true sportsman & not to win against any group or individual #JaiHind 🇮🇳— Sushil Kumar (@WrestlerSushil) December 29, 2017
TV footage showed fans of veteran Sushil Kumar and Parveen Rana, an up-and-coming wrestler, exchanging blows soon after their bout ended. Shocked onlookers tried to break up the fistfights between rival supporters, with some throwing water bottles. There was no official confirmation of any injuries.
Sushil - who won bronze for India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver at the 2012 London Games - claimed he was bitten by Rana during the bout.
"He bit me, but no problem, it might be his tactic to stop me from performing well," he told reporters after winning the bout and qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Rana said his elder brother was beaten up by Kumar's supporters, claiming they were unhappy that he took on the celebrated wrestler. Rana, a 25-year-old junior world championship bronze medallist, is seen as the main competitor to Kumar in the local circuit.