India’s only double Olympic Medallist Mr Sushil Kumar, who has made India proud on many different occasions at international wrestling tournaments, today, shares the story of his successful and inspiring career in wrestling with us. He will tell us the secret to becoming a great wrestler and a source of motivation to an entire generation of future wrestlers who look up to him for inspiration. So, let’s find out from a living wrestling legend what it takes to become a two-time Olympic medallist.
Jagranjosh: You are the only Indian individual sports person with two medals in Olympics. How does that make you feel?
Sushil Kumar: To say something about myself I was very small when I started training under the guidance of my coach 'Padam Shri Mahabali Satpal Ji.' And, yes I feel very proud that I have been able to serve the nation by the medium of wrestling and have won medals in the Olympic for the country.
Jagranjosh: From the small village of Baprola to ‘Dhobi Pachad’ in Beijing and London; your journey has been a long and arduous one. Do you feel that you have achieved what you had set out to as a wrestler?
Sushil Kumar: It has been a very good experience and there have been many ups and downs in this journey. I have been playing international tournaments since 1998 but I got most of the recognition only after 2008 when I won the Olympic medal along with Vijender and Abhinav Bindra. I was very happy that after 56 years someone had won a medal in the Olympic for wrestling from our country. There are very medals that are won Olympics so I was very happy that I was one of the sportsperson to have won a medal for the country. Ups and downs are a part of life, it's a struggle that everyone goes through in life, even when you leave home you have to face a lot of difficulties. But success is achieved only by those who do not falter in the face of adversities be it a sportsperson or anyone else.
Jagranjosh: You belong to a family of wrestlers; do you think that has helped you in becoming a better wrestler
Sushil Kumar: Yes, of course, my entire family has been involved with wrestling. My grandfather, father and even my elder brother everyone was a wrestler so, it made a lot of difference for me. It was something that I had seen since I was a child so I became a target for me to also become a wrestler. And since, my family was involved in the sport it was really helpful as they knew how the training should take place, the techniques to teach, my diet and everything was well-taken care off. So, it helped a lot to have a wrestling background in the family.
Jagranjosh: Your father Diwan Singh Ji and cousin Sandeep have also been wrestlers; do you discuss wrestling with them or take their advice before major tournaments or matches?
Sushil Kumar: Yes, someone from the family also stays with me 24x7 they always keep an eye on my training whenever I am on the mat. So, whenever they feel that I am making a mistake or lacking somewhere they try to improve it. Mostly, my training happens under my coach 'Padam Shri Mahabali Satpal Ji' and at present, a foreign coach also has been assigned to us. So, it's quite beneficial as am I always surrounded by the people who are experienced in wrestling.
Jagranjosh: Olympics, Commonwealth Games, world championships or any other international tournament; you have made winning a habit. How do you deal with the pressure of performance amid such high competition on a regular basis?
Sushil Kumar: I enjoy wrestling as a sport. But I always keep in mind the words of my coach like he says, 'that whenever you go fully prepared for something be it an exam or a tournament you'll be able to tackle through any problem or situation. You won't be bothered by it.' Hence, we prepare beforehand for any big tournament be it Olympic, Commonwealth, Asian or even the World Championships. We keep in mind the kind of opponent we can face in the particular tournament and train accordingly. So, I think if one prepares in such a manner he would much pressure.
Jagranjosh: In a country obsessed with cricket, your silver medal at Beijing brought wrestling to the fore and you kept it in the limelight with your exceptional performances at many other international tournaments. Do you think that today, youngsters look upon wrestling as a viable career choice?
Sushil Kumar: It's not like that people prefer cricket more and wrestling less. However, there is one that I appreciate a lot about our country that whenever someone does something good for the country the entire nation comes together to support that person. And I know this better than anyone as when we won the medal in Beijing Olympic for the first time the entire country gave us heap load of blessings and love and I have never been able to forget that feeling. And I believe that after Beijing Olympics there has a been a shift in the thinking of sports person and not just in wrestling. Like, take Dipa Karmakar she performed such exceptionally in the category of Gymnastics in the recent Olympics. The players after the Beijing Olympic have developed this thinking that no we don't just want to participate in Olympics but we have to bring back medals which is a major change.
Jagranjosh: What would you say is the hardest part about being a wrestler in India?
Sushil Kumar: See, like when we came into wrestling we were very young and then there were no such facilities. But our coach always used to tell us don't waste your time thinking about these small things. Because a sportsperson has very limited years for which plays so if you are stuck with the thoughts that I didn't get this facility or that facility you'd waste your time. I would say that make the best of what you have available and remain focused on your task at hand.
Jagranjosh: What would you say are the three key things that one needs to become a successful wrestler in India?
Sushil Kumar: Well, my coach can answer this better but all I would say that you train your best. And whoever wrestler you know you are to face try to analyze his weak points through videos it will help you prepare better. And wrestling is a game where you have to be able to take a decision in less than a second. So, if a wrestler is a decision maker than he can perform a lot better as when you have to decide in less than a second you hardly have enough time. You have cut through your opponents technique and trap him in your own technique to score points so decision making skills are important for a wrestler to perform.
Jagranjosh: Would you say that wrestling pays good money as a career option?
Sushil Kumar: If you come into sports thinking that you have to make an earning then you won't be able to perform well. However if you enjoy your sport then you can have it all, your earn recognition, you can also earn good amounts of money but it's important that you enjoy your sport.
Jagranjosh: How do you prepare yourself for a big tournament?
Sushil Kumar: There is a combination of many things in wrestling. For example, if you are not physically fit but mentally fit you won't be able to perform. Similarly if you are not mentally strong but physically fit you won't be able to perform too. And if you are physically fit, mentally strong and have a good decision making power than you can perform really well in wrestling. The simple reason being you body movements should be in sync with your thoughts. As it's not just your strength that will win you matches but also your ability to get your opponent to make more mistakes.
Jagranjosh: You have achieved everything a sportsperson can dream of; so what lies ahead for Sushil Kumar?
Sushil Kumar: The Commonwealth Games are coming up so I am busy preparing for them and want to bring back more medals for the country from there. I would request the countrymen to support us and give their blessing to us so that we are able to perform good.
Jagranjosh: Any advice for youngsters who might be interested in taking up wrestling as a full-time career option?
Sushil Kumar:The only thing I would like to tell them is that go to a good coach, train well, respect your elders, your parents and work hard because that is the only sure path to success no matter what field you are in. Always keep your target in mind and work hard to achieve that.
Thank you Sushil for sharing your success story with us; the entire team of Jagranjosh wishes you good luck for the upcoming tournaments. We hope that you will continue to make India proud at international wrestling tournaments and be a motivation for the young generation of future wrestlers.
Building a career in sports, especially in a competitive sport like wrestling, is a very tough job. While it is not meant for everyone, those who truly love the sport of wrestling and are committed to it will surely find a way to build a successful career in it, just like our beloved Sushil Kumar, who fought against all odds to become India’s only two-time Olympic medallist.
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