World title will raise wrestling's profile in India: Sushil

"This gold means a lot to me because all the wrestlers dream of becoming a world champion some day but only a few go on to realise this dream. I am one of the lucky few," Sushil told PTI after returning late last night to a rousing reception here.

I am the first wrestler from India to win the World Championship. It is great for the sport because all wrestlers will now think if Sushil can, why cannot I? This gold will motivate youngsters to take up wrestling as a professional sport," the 27-year-old, who is also an Olympic bronze medallist, said.

On Sunday, Sushil outclassed Alan Gogaev of Russia in the final of the 66kg freestyle category to become the first Indian wrestler to conquer a world title at the senior level.

He realises the magnitude of his achievement but the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee remains a grounded man and credited the feat to some hard work and lots of blessings of his countrymen.

"It is great feeling to have won the gold in the World Championship. I am very happy that I could keep the honour, love and respect the countrymen had bestowed on me," Sushil said.

"It (gold in World Championship) was my target for long. So if I say that I wasn't expecting the gold, it would be wrong. I had been working very hard for this and finally it paid off," he added.

Asked to compare the Olympic bronze with the World Championships gold, the soft-spoken grappler said, "Both matter a lot to me. I cannot compare them."

"Both the feats have equal significance in my career because there are some wrestlers in the world who have won four or five World Championships but are still looking for their first medal in the Olympics," Sushil said.

After conquering the world, Sushil hardly has any time for celebrations as his next target is to defend his Commonwealth Games crown here next month and the Asian Games title in Guangzhou, China in November.

"I am now focusing on the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. And I expect similar results in both the events," he said.

Speaking about the doping controversies that have rocked the sport in India, Sushil requested his fellow wrestlers not to defame the sport by indulging in such malicious activities.

"Doping is a crime. It's not that your performance will double after taking dope. So, I will urge all the wrestlers to be aware about doping and play dope free," said Sushil, who idolises his coach Satpal.

Four wrestlers, including Arjuna awardee Rajiv Tomar, from the Commonwealth Games core group tested positive for a banned substance recently creating a crisis for the sport.

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