That was a phase, this is also a phase – was philosophical Sushil Kumar’s first reaction as he celebrated his third successive gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, the build-up to which was marred by a selection controversy and questions over his fitness.
Sushil, a double Olympic-medallist and without doubt India’s most decorated wrestler, spent barely 10 minutes on the mat today before grabbing a gold.
The result was just the perfect response to all that he has been silent about, including being blamed by an opponent for instigating his supporters into violence during the selection trials.
“I don’t hold on to old things because that day doesn’t come back. The medal I have won today won’t happen tomorrow. That was also a phase, this is also a phase,” Sushil said after evading the media for a good two hours on some pretext or the other.
“It’s all part of life. It’s nice that people expect so much from me,” he added with a smile on his face when the queries amplified on the turbulent build-up to the Games starting with the infamous trials in Delhi, where his supporters came to blows with those of his rival Parveen Rana.
Responding to another query on the perhaps the same issue, although it was not specifically mentioned, Sushil offered an everyday life example to stress on his point.
“In life, the moment you step out of house, there are problems waiting for you. Sometimes you don’t get a bus. If you get the bus, you are caught in traffic. These things keep happening,” he said.
The 34-year-old former world champion also responded to questions on the status of his fitness, something that has never got a clear response from him in the last one year.
“When I am fit, I try to ensure that I win in this way (the way he won today). When I am not fit, I don’t fight. I am fit right now,” he said in a crisp response.
An accompalished attacker on the mat, Sushil’s defence while dealing with tricky questions was admirable too. When asked where he placed today’s medal given the circumstances leading upto it, he gave a nuanced response.
“Every medal of mine is close to my heart and I believe that every medal that you win should be important to you. I have dedicated this medal to the children who died in the accident in Himachal Pradesh,” he said referring to the 27 children, who died after their bus fell into a gorge in Kangra valley.
Sushil said this medal would join the several others in his cabinet and he would now train his sights on the next milestone, which in all likelihood, would be the Asian Games. “I will get back to training soon,” he said.