Wrestler Sushil Kumar’s return to the mat after three years led him to a national gold medal without breaking a sweat. The double Olympic medalist was declared a winner in the 74kg category in the National Wrestling Championship in Indore on Friday following three wrestlers, including the finalist, Praveen Rana, gave him walkovers.
At the time of quarterfinal and semifinal matches, Sushil’s opponents came to the mat, touched his feet and later he was declared the winner. The referee, on the other hand, praised the gesture of two wrestlers, saying that “Dekhiye, yehi humari parampara hai (Look, this is our tradition)”. The finalist Rana, who was sent to the 2016 Rio Olympics by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) following the Narsingh-Sushil controversy, mentioned a thigh injury and gave Sushil a walkover in the final. The wrestling coach Sujeet Maan, who fought in the 74kg category during his playing days, told TOI that “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”.
“This was expected. Saare pehelwaan Sushil se thar thar kaapte hai (All the wrestlers are scared of Sushil). The finalist (Rana), in fact, came to the mat with his shoulders already drooping. I knew he wasn’t in a mood to fight Sushil and was just there to tell the referee that he was conceding the bout,” said the former national women’s freestyle coach Kripa Shankar Bishnoi. “Both wrestlers wanted to fight the repechage rounds for a bronze medal. Therefore, they didn’t want to waste their energy in fighting with Sushil,” Bishnoi added.