Sushil Kumar doesnt have fond memories of 2013. Going through an intense rehab programme at the Sports Authority of Indias Sonepat Centre,he was counting the days until the end of the year,hoping for a better 2014.
One can imagine why.
After a dream 2012,where he won his second Olympic medal,Sushil spent the entire year after that on the sidelines,nursed an injury (shoulder),missed the World championships and saw his sport being booted out of the Olympics before it was reinstated by the International Olympic Committee.
Little did he know,though,that the return to Olympics would come with the dreaded conditions apply note.
Just when things were looking bright for him,Sushil is left grappling with another setback. Earlier this week,the international wrestling federation (FILA) rejigged the weight categories in its bid to modernise wrestling. In the process,Sushils weight class,66kg,along with his childhood friend and London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutts (60kg),has been dropped from the Olympics and other international events.
The duo is now forced to change their weight categories and move out of their comfort zone.
Its very disappointing. Ive had a frustrating year where I have spent the entire time out of wrestling. I have been training hard and my injury is now healed. I was really looking forward to a successful 2014. However,the equation has changed now, he said. We knew FILA would change weight categories for the next Olympics but the fact that all three categories in which we have won international medals have been scrapped is a setback.
At the Rio Games,57 and 65kg categories will replace the 55,60 and 66kg events that were part of the London Games. Twenty-year-old Amit Kumar,who won silver medal at this years world championships in 55kg,will now compete in the 57kg division.
While there is a slim possibility of both competing in the 65kg class,coaches are of the opinion that Sushil should move to middleweight category (74kg),eight kilos above his usual. That will pave way for Yogeshwar to take part in 65kg.
Sushil was open to the idea of moving to 74kg but said a final decision will be taken after consulting coaches in a day or two.
It is something I will decide after a discussing with guruji. Its a big call and will have a huge bearing on me and other wrestlers as well, Sushil said. People are recommending that I move to middleweight. I will look at the pros and cons and take the decision in best interest of all other wrestlers.
The two-time Olympic medallist said it would get difficult to adjust to new weight categories but insisted his recurring injury problem wont be a hindrance.
Hopefully,injury wont be a problem again. I am feeling good about it. But whether its reducing the category by one kilo to 65 to moving to 74,there are a lot of adjustments that have to be made. Its not that there will be less work if I move to 65, he said. Itll take two to three months to get in shape for the new weight classes. Next year is crucial we have Commonwealth and Asian Games. It will be crucial to get accustomed to it soon.