One thing is clear: nobody poses any competition to Sushil Kumar in India as of now. The two-time Olympic medallist may have been challenged many a time in the country for a fight, but when it comes to mat, nobody stands a chance against him for long.
On Tuesday, Sushil booked his berth in the Indian contingent that will go to Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan for the wrestling World Champioships that starts on September 14.
Sushil humbled Jitender 4-2, in the trials that were held at KD Jadhav Stadium here, to ensure that he represents India at the World’s in the 74kg category.
It was an entertaining final though. Sushil raced to a 4-0 lead in the first period of the bout. Jitender was hit in the eye leading to a break in which he received medical attention.
Sushil apologised immediately and after Jitender recovered, the bout was resumed. Towards the end of the match, Jitender was wincing in pain once again with an elbow injury. Jitender did manage to earn two points but it wasn’t enough.
During the match, Sushil himself received multiple cuts and the bout had to be stopped periodically for the wrestlers to receive medical attention.
“Jitender is like a younger brother and I wish him all the best for his future tournaments. It was a very good bout and it will be great for our country if the competition remains this stiff. No one intentionally hurts an opponent in wrestling,” Sushil said after the bout.
Jitender can still go for a spot in the team if he manages to beat Veerdev Gulia in 79kg on August 23.
The 36-year-old Sushil joins Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), Mausam Khatri (97kg) and Sumit Malik (125kg) amongst those wrestling in the Olympic categories at the World’s, which serves as a qualifier for Tokyo 2020.
Others who sealed their spot in the Indian contingent on Tuesday are Rahul Aware (61kg), Karan Mor (70kg) and Praveen (92kg).
Sushil returned to international arena after a long break in Belarus. But his comeback was not up to the mark. He lost in the opening round and then in the bronze medal match.
Sushil, however, wants to take positives from the event. “I had a good tournament in Belarus. I won two and and lost two but the man I lost against has beaten some of the best in the world. So that was a very good experience and I got a lot of appreciation for it,” said Sushil.
“I am still learning. It is never easy for a wrestler to get back onto the mat after a long break,” he added.
Sushil further said that he hopes to leave the country within the next two weeks to start training for the Worlds.