India’s ace wrestler Sushil Kumar won gold in 74 kg category on Thursday, beating South Africa’s Johannes Botha in the final that lasted 80 seconds. Defending champion Sushil entered the competition as an overwhelming favourite, and lived up to the top billing by winning all his four bouts with ease. Notably, he won each of his bouts without even conceding a single point.
Speaking to Firstpost from Gold Coast, his coach and father-in-law Satpal Singh described Sushil’s performance as 'excellent' and claimed that the 34-year-old’s dominance on the mat exceeded his expectations.
“Bahut shaandaar kushti lada Sushil (Sushil fought an excellent bout). He surpassed my expectations. He was too good in all aspects – attack, defence, power, technique, everything,” coach Satpal said.
“Before the final, I told him to stay focussed and stick to his game. I knew he had prepared well,” he added.
Post the 2012 London Olympics, Sushil had been laid low by shoulder and leg injuries that have considerably reduced his appearances on the mat.
After winning gold in the 2014 edition of Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Sushil made a triumphant return to competitive wrestling with Senior Nationals in November last year, but the victory was marred with a spate of walkovers that facilitated his march to the title.
In December, he won the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in Johannesburg. Incidentally, he defeated Botha in the first round then.
The double Olympic-medallist trained hard at New Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium for the Commonwealth Games, and Satpal lauded his ward’s toil.
“He showed there’s no substitute for hard work. He had trained non-stop for 7-8 hours each day. All his efforts bore fruit today,” the Dronacharya Award-winning coach said.
“His entire family is here (Gold Coast). His twin sons were quite excited to watch their father’s bout on TV. It was all very emotional for me. He thoroughly deserved to win, and this gold is dedicated to the entire nation,” he said.
Sushil defeated Jevon Balfour of Canada, Muhammad Asad Butt of Pakistan and Australia’s Conor Evans before decimating Botha in the title clash. While the faultless scorelines suggest complete domination, Satpal said the bouts were not easy as each wrestler was a high-quality opponent.
“It is important to note that none of his opponents were easy. Belfour is a fine wrestler, the Pakistani pehelwan (wrestler) had a good bout against Scotland, and Evans fought well too. I watched Botha’s semi-final bout against Nigeria’s Ebimienfaghe Assizecourt, and he fought very well. But Sushil was in a different league altogether, and he proved that the Sushil of old is back on the mat,” Satpal said.
“I would also like to congratulate Rahul Aware and Babita Phogat who won gold and silver in their respective categories. It was a good day for Indian wrestling and I am sure Sushil’s brilliant performance will inspire other wrestlers to bring more medals for the country,” he concluded.
On Day 8 of the Games, Indian wrestlers returned with a medal from each event they participated in. Besides Sushil, Aware clinched gold in 57 kg event, while Babita and Kiran won a silver and a bronze in 53 kg and 76 kg categories respectively.
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Updated Date: Apr 12, 2018 18:44:33 IST