Sushil asserts he will come back
Veteran Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar, on Sunday, asserted that his career is far from being over despite a disappointing first round exit from the Asian Games putting a question mark on his future.
The two-time Olympic medallist Indian suffered a stunning 3-5 loss in the first qualification round bout against Bahrain's Adam Batirov in the men's 74 kg category in Jakarta.
But the 35-year-old, who won a bronze and a silver respectively in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, said he was determined to make a strong comeback.
"It (the defeat) was not expected. The 57 kg world champion was sitting beside me and 'he said he lost. I told him don't worry, I have lost lost. It's part of sport'. I will come back again," Sushil told reporters.
"We can't be overwhelmed by defeats or victories. It won't lead you anywhere," he added.
Sushil came into the Asian Games after losing his first bout in four years at Tbilisi Grand prix in Georgia, last month. Though he grabbed his third Commonwealth Games gold in April, the competition at Gold Coast was not a tough one with none of the Asian wrestling power houses in the field.
His form was in question and his exemption from the trials was not appreciated by some quarters in country's wrestling circle.
Now 35, Sushil lost steam against Batirov in the second period. He was trailing but neither he had the energy nor the power to turn the tables on his rival, who is the brother of two-time Russian Olympic champion Mavlet Batirov.
Asked if he is losing stamina with age, Sushil dismissed the suggestion.
"No, If I was losing stamina, I would not have lasted full time. I would have been defeated earlier. I was not passive. I am a 'tapasvi'. I am enjoying my game, I am not tired. The day I get tired I will tell you," he said.
Sushil was not aggressive enough inhis bout but he defended his tactics.
"It was not a slow start. If I am leading, I can't attack much. I made a mistake by attacking him later on when I just needed to defend. I am playing a big event after four years, that is why there were small mistakes.
"I did not play many big events in four years. There was not much time between CWG and Asian Games, so I could not play better tournaments to prepare. This is the only reason for today's defeat," he added.
The World Championship is approaching and Sushil said he will plan for it.
"The Asian Championship is like World Championship. Olympic champions are from Asia. I am not sure if I will go to Georgia for training or not," said Sushil.
Wrestling Federation India President Brij Bhushan Sharan, who is also India's Chef de Mission, said Sushil was the best option in 74kg and the WFI has no regrets in exempting him from trials.
"If we had not given him a chance, then also there would have been questions. We had to give him this chance. He is our best wrestler in this category," Sharan said.
Meanwhile, there were murmurs that Sushil might have played his last multi-sporting event.
A source in the WFI said Sushil may not be picked for World Championship and there is a possibility that he himself makes way for some other wrestler in this category.
"Look, he is ageing. He is still fighting and that is also laudable. You never know if he skips World Championship on his own," the source said on condition of anonymity.