Sushil Kumar has defended himself stating that he has no idea why people keep criticizing him and has guessed that the only reason could be temporary publicity. Meanwhile, his former foreign coach Vladimir Mestvirishvili pointed out Sushil’s fast reaction time to be his biggest strength at Worlds.
The 36-year-old wrestler, who has won two Olympic medals in Beijing and London, hasn’t seen a career short of controversy, especially in the last four years. While his image was tainted following a bitter face-off with Narsingh Yadav just before the Rio Olympics, it was followed by numerous controversies concerning his national selection trials.
If that wasn’t enough, the most recent has been at the World Championships trials, a few weeks back, where Sushil’s opponent Jitender and his coach had reportedly accused him of using rough tactics. Sushil, however, has denied all these claims.
“I am a very positive person. I have always done good to people. Why people criticise me I have no idea. I just tell myself if they think so, I can’t do anything about it. But I have never said bad things about anyone nor will I ever say. If you want to become famous with such small things then it is bad,” he said in an interview with HT.
Pushing controversies aside, Sushil’s biggest challenge ahead would be his inconsistent form and more importantly, an ageing body. He hasn’t been competing in major international events for some time now after the 74kg wrestler’s chances were blown in the 2018 Asian Games by Bahrain’s Adam Batirov. Though Sushil won two bouts at the Medved International wrestling tournament at Minsk, Belarus, he was beaten by Bekzod Abdurakhmonov quite comprehensively.
With World Championships being another chance at sealing a spot for the Tokyo Olympics for Sushil, the wrestler has stated that he would give his best and execute all tactics he has practiced in training. “I have never gone to a tournament thinking that I want to win gold. My thinking has been that I need to put my 100 per cent of what I have trained. Only then you can fight with a free mind,” Sushil added.
His former coach Vladimir has, however, sounded quite confident about Sushil’s chance in Tokyo highlighting the wrestler’s rigorous training and reaction time to be his biggest strength.
“Sushil is ready. This world championships is important to qualify, he can have the result in the Olympics. There are examples of wrestlers winning Olympic medals in late 30s, even in their early 40s. Sushil is a fighter. He is going through very good training with new coach. He is very fast, and has very good reaction time. He will also fight for his name,” says Vladimir.