Sushil keen to make a return

Sushil keen to make a return

WFI recommends grappler's name for Padma Bhushan

Sushil keen to make a return

The career of iconic Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar had appeared at the crossroads after his attempts to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics went in vain. The double Olympic medallist was hurt following the bitter controversy surrounding the Olympic selection, but now says he is determined to return to the mat at the earliest.

Following the selection controversy, Sushil's relations with the Wrestling Federation of India suffered. The federation had backed Narsingh Yadav for the Rio Olympics. However, the federation has now recommended Sushil's name for the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in the country. His application has been forwarded, on the recommendation of the WFI, to the Sports Ministry, which would take the final call on the matter.

Sushil, meanwhile, was not too keen on digging the past. He said he was heartened by the support he got from the country and was ready to move on.

“Everyone knows what happened with me. There are no secrets. At that time I had decided something else, which I revealed to no one. But now my mind has changed. I have got a lot of love and respect from my country.  So today I am eager to return, to compete and make my country proud once again,” Sushil told Deccan Herald.

The next big events lined up for Sushil include the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. He had last participated in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. “I have been training with all my heart. I am looking at the competitions to participate, and will be deciding where I will be participating. You will be seeing me back on the mat soon.”

Many believed that the Rio Games could be the Olympic farewell for the 33-year-old Sushil, who had been India’s most successful grappler with bronze in Beijing Games and silver in London Games in 66kg. After a rejig in weight categories, Sushil had to change his category to 74kg which was best represented by Narsingh till then. The selection drama following Narsingh winning a quota at the Worlds last year was dragged to the court which ruled against Sushil. As it turned out, Narsingh was caught in the dope net and an embarrassed India was left with no representation in the 74kg weight category at Rio.

Does Sushil see himself representing India at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo? “I can only say that I will do my very best to be fit and ready by the time next Olympic Games come. I was prepared this time also. But then we all know why it didn’t happen,” said Sushil, who would be 37 by 2020.

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