'Wrestling needs hours of practice in the akhada'

By Abhishek Roy

Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar is one of the medal hopefuls at the London Olympics 2012. He won bronze medal at the Beijing games is also going to be India's flag-bearer at the London Olympics opening ceremony on July 27. We spoke to him about his preparations and plans:

Comfort-wise, is it better to play in front of a home crowd or in the international arena?

Playing in front of home crowd has an added advantage. The crowd backing motivates you to do better. It also keeps the opponent under pressure. But there is the pressure of expectations. Now I am used to fighting both in front of home crowd and overseas.

Sushil Kumar, India's Wrestling medal hopeful.How do you prepare yourself mentally before a big game?

I generally try to focus on myself and recall some of my winning moments. That helps me from not getting distracted. During the Olympics, I will also watch videos of other wrestlers who have qualified in my category and accordingly plan the strategy.

London Olympics - what are the expectations you have set for yourself?

I want to better my Beijing performance. In the last Olympics, not many gave me a chance but I still won the bronze medal. I feel I could have won in Athens, too, as I had beaten almost all the top wrestlers before the Olympics, but could not repeat that showing at the Games. I hope to do better in London. My target is always is gold.

How do you keep yourself fit for your sport?

Wrestling is a traditional Indian sport. It needs hours and hours of practice in the akhada (wrestling arena) to become a good wrestler. We do a lot of weight training and cardio exercises.

India is a cricket country do you think your sport is underrated?

I think in the last few years the perception has changed. There is a huge following for Olympic sports in the country. Earlier for us winning a medal in the Olympics was enough, but now we aim only for gold. There has been a huge change in the mindset of the sportspersons as well.

Tell us about a memory that is etched in your mind that proves to you that you cannot do without mom?

It is hard to pick one. My mother has been a constant source of inspiration in my life. Had it not been for her inspiration, I wouldn't have won the bronze medal in Beijing.

What is the message you would like to give your mom?

I will never let her down. She is my inspiration.

How has mom been an influence in your life, professionally and personally?

As I said my mom has always influenced on me. She has taught me the values of life and the importance of leading a disciplined life. It helped me to shape my career.
 
We spoke to Sushil Kumar's mother, Kamala Devi:

Tell us some traits about your son that makes him perfect for this sport?

Wrestling is a tradition in our family. Sushil was a healthy kid. He is powerful and that made him fit for wrestling. He took to the sport at an early stage and I was confident he would make everybody proud.

How have you encouraged your child to take up this sport?

We allowed him to follow his passion. At 13, he left home for the nearby Chattarsal Stadium to train under wrestling great Satpal Singh. As a mother it was tough for me to stay away from him, but now I feel proud.

What kind of food habits would you suggest for moms who are training their kids for full-time sports?

I would ask all moms to see their kids developed a healthy food habit. It is very important for them to develop a proper eating habit right from the young age. We are strict vegetarian and made sure that our son had a healthy diet right from the early age.

What message would you like to give your son before the Olympics?

I just one message for my son. I believe in him, he can do it again.

--Indo-Asian News Service

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