Forced to move up to a heavier weight category, Sushil Kumar has his task cut out. Vinayak Padmadeo meets India’s best-known wrestler and takes a peek into his world
Sushil Kumar looks unlike his old self. Gone is the toned body with not an ounce of fat. Having been forced to move up to a higher weight category following the overhaul brought in by the sport’s governing body, FILA, Sushil looks a bit on the heavier side. He’s a little slow too. From a chiselled body mass of 66 kilograms, Sushil has now bulked to 75 kilograms — he will have to shed one kilogram in time for the Commonwealth Games.
The CWG will be the first major tournament for the double Olympic medallist following his silver-winning feat at the London Games. His only try-out in the new category before Glasgow came at the International Competition in Sassari, Italy. Here too, he won the silver.
“I was leading and could have won the gold. But because it was my first tournament in this weight category, I was keen to try out a few things. So, while attempting them, I got caught and lost. It is okay, that’s how you learn,” Sushil spoke casually about his first outing in two years.
The jump, he and his coaching staff say, was the only way forward after his category was dropped as FILA chopped and changed the format to suit the television audience as well as those in the stadium — as desired by the International Olympic Committee — for the sport’s survival in the Olympics.
Previously, the two-time Olympic medallist was always sweating it out to make the prescribed weight prior to tournaments. He had once famously failed to do so during the 2009 Asian Championship in Pattaya, Thailand, following which he was censured by the sports ministry. So, going down to the new weight category — 65kg — was a no-go zone from the start. The next best option for him was the 74kg category.
“I am confident that our wrestlers will make everyone proud. As for me, my preparations have been going on well. My challenges have increased. Most wrestlers from the 66kg, 70 and those in the 74 kg categories have now been clubbed together. Let’s see what happens,” Sushil said about this fresh start.
Strangely though, the man, who all his life had only known to control his weight, had to gain some and more before taking up serious training. “Doodh, ghee aur protein intake badana pada (had to continued…