Two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar made his comeback historic as he became the new national champion in the 74kg category on November 17. After 3 long years, the 34-year-old wrestler participated in the National Wrestling Championship held in Indore and clinched the gold without even breaking a sweat. He didn’t have to play a single bout in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final as his opponents in those rounds gave him the walkover.
In the initial stages, Sushil played two matches against Mizoram’s Lalmalsawma and Mukul Mishra of Jharkhand. He took less than a minute to beat Lalmalsawma while he defeated Mishra in a minute and 45 seconds. These victories proved that Sushil is back in his old skin and the next rounds are not going to be easy. However, what he experienced in the next matches was unbelievable.
In the quarterfinal, Haryana wrestler Parveen touched Sushil’s feet and conceded the game. Sachin Rathi of Uttar Pradesh did the same thing to his Olympian opponent in the semifinal. Moreover, the referee applauded the gesture of the two wrestlers, saying,
“Dekhiye, yehi humari parampara hai (Look, this is our tradition).”
After two walkovers, now it was the final where Sushil had to fight his Railway teammate Praveen Rana. Surprisingly, Rana also gave him the walkover citing a thigh injury and making Sushil Kumar the new national champion.
Wrestling coach Sujeet Maan later stated that giving a walkover is completely legal in wrestling. He said,
“Giving a walkover is allowed. It isn’t illegal, but whosoever does this should give a legitimate reason to the technical committee. The committee decides whether it is valid or not. In this case, the technical committee for the championship must have found the reasons given by the three wrestlers as legitimate,” leading Indian daily, Times of India quoted his as
A former national women’s freestyle coach Krip Bishnoi, who was present at the venue, was quoted as saying,
“Saare pehelwaan Sushil se thar thar kaapte hai (All the wrestlers are scared of Sushil).”