New Delhi: The continued chatter over the retirement of two time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar ceases to subside especially after getting ousted in the opening bout at the world championships against Khadzhimurad Gadzhiyev in the 74kg category.
Despite taking an early 9-4 lead in his bout, Sushil ended on the losing side in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, a possible reflection of his slowing reflexes and weakened stamina.
Before competing at the world championships, the 36-year-old wrestler competed in only seven tournaments since 2012 London Olympics. There have been clear indications of him struggling of late especially after his defeat in the first round at the Asian Games last year. He has also not won a medal since 2018 Commonwealth games.
Sushil admits that he never wanted to compete at the world championships in the first place but did it on the advice of his Russian coach, Kamal Malikov.
“I think I made a mistake by starting my training late for World Championships. I should have started right after the Asian Championships. My coach told me that I needed 90 days of training to gain full fitness, but I started late. I underwent just two months of training,” Sushil explained.
When asked about what exactly went wrong despite taking a lead, he said, “When I look back at my bout, I think I made a mistake by opting for a defensive strategy in the last minute. I should have gone for an offensive approach. I got a very tough draw as well. There were at least 10 wrestlers of the same quality in my half,” Sushil said.
Sushil also muddied the waters on his possible retirement plans, asserting that a player should be competing till he has it “in him to stand on the mat and wrestle.”
“Even other foreign coaches told me ‘you seem to be on a roll now’,” the star grappler said.
“Till the point a player has it in him, he should be competing. He shouldn’t be resting. I believe I can do well. I am quick on the mat and learned new tricks which very few players can tackle. I learned a lot in two months but it wasn’t enough,” he said.