'There's no success without respect, loyalty'
The bronze award winning Olympian strongly feels that there is a lot of talent in the country, and we need to ensure that it is spotted and harnessed properly.
This 29-year-old was born into a family of wrestlers, and won his first gold medal at the World Cadet Games in 1998.
Since then, he has earned 12 medals, including silver and bronze medals at the 2012 and 2008 Olympics, respectively. A favourite in TV commercials, Sushil Kumar shares his success mantras.
Tell us about your Olympic wins...
It took a lot of hard work and preparation. The reception at my village was outstanding! In fact, a large part of the village came at the airport to receive me and that was a wonderful experience!
How did you get into wrestling?
I have been born and brought up by a wrestling family. My grandfather and father helped me with the sport and encouraged me to be the best I could be, and my entire formative years were spent towards the goal of trying to be the best wrestler in the world.
Subsequently, my coaches helped in adding to my skill strength and bringing in more ideas and strategies. My father's teachings and support always helped me to excel.
Is wrestling a violent sport?
It isn't violent in itself -- it's just that in the spirit of competition, sometimes people get hurt.
It has very clearly defined rules and all of us train according to them. I love the fact that it is all up to you, your strength and your skills!
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Image: Sushil Kumar
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
'There is a lot of talent in the country'
Is your training regime rigorous?
We train in two sessions, in the morning and evening, for three hours each. Wresting requires a significant amount of cardiovascular endurance.
Our workout programme includes push-ups, cone hops, shuttle runs, jump squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, jumping rope, chin ups, walking lunges, rope climbing and wall chairs to build strength and endurance.
We play other games too like basketball, volleyball, badminton football to keep the stamina high. Also, the right diet and right amount of rest is built in!
Tell us about your first salary
Rs 101 at a dangal (wrestling floor) at age 9! I gave it to my parents.
Do you receive any support from professional sports management companies?
I'm currently associated with Percept Limited and receive some assistance from them in terms of marketing.
Your learnings from akhada (school of Indian wrestling) to Olympics ?
One big lesson -- the importance of discipline. Another, there's no success without respect and loyalty, and without the will and desire to give 100 per cent to whatever you commit to. Work hard, struggle, persevere and believe!
What must India do to improve its track record in sports?
We need to invest in sports and support sports people from a young age. There is a lot of talent in the country, and we need to ensure that it is spotted and harnessed, and does not fall to the wayside due to lack of money or the demands of education and the safety of a job. Sports needs to be a way of making a living in addition to being a way of life!
What attributes does a professional wrestler require?
You need to be strong and nimble, completely dedicated and work extremely hard. Failure is acceptable but failure due to inadequate effort is not. Respect everyone.
Image: Sushil Kumar
Photographs: Paul Sancya/AP