13 Sep : Sushil Kumar made history by becoming the first Indian to win a World wrestling championship gold medal when he overpowered home favourite Alan Gogaev to win the 66kg freestyle title in Moscow on Sunday.
The exciting 3-1 victory in the title-bout also made Sushil the first Indian grappler to bag Olympic and World championship medals. The 27-year-old already holds the Asian and Commonwealth titles.
On his way to the final, Sushil convincingly defeated Anastasios Akritidis of Greece (6-0), Martin Sebastian Daum of Germany (4-1) and Batzorig Buyanjar of Mongolia (9-1) before rallying to beat reigning European champion Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan (4-3).
In the final, Sushil got the better of Gogaev in two straight rounds, winning 2-1 and 1-0 and sealing a historic triumph.
The Delhi wrestler had won the bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, becoming the second Indian wrestler, the first being K.D. Jadhav, to achieve the distinction.
Last year in Denmark, Ramesh Kumar had broken India’s long medal drought in the World championship by returning a bronze in the 74-kg category.
The other World championship medallists from India were Uday Chand (bronze in 1961), Bishambhar Singh (silver in 1967) and Alka Tomar (bronze in 2006).
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President G.S. Mander was quick to hail Sushil’s feat.
“Sushil had proved his mettle at every level and now he has done it at the World level. It is a big thing to be the World, Asian and Commonwealth champion at the same time,” Mander said.
Sushil had won the Commonwealth championship in Jalandhar in December last and the Asian title here in May.
“In the midst of so much negative publicity doing the rounds (due to drug abuse in Indian sport), this is a welcome change,” Mander added.
The WFI Secretary and former Asian Games gold medallist Kartar Singh, too, expressed his joy after Sushil won the gold.
“I am very happy with his achievement. The country expected him to win the gold and he did it,” said Kartar.
“When I spoke to him, he said that it was due to God’s grace. He said the competition was very tough, especially the semifinal against the European champion was a difficult bout.
“ had advised Sushil to give his best even against the fancied Russian wrestler (in the final) as such chances come very rarely in life, so he should grab it with both hands,” Kartar said.
Kartar hoped that the Commonwealth Games gold at home should not be a difficult thing to achieve for Sushil.
The WFI declared that a befitting welcome and suitable reward await the star wrestler on his return from Moscow.
The 1982 Asian Games gold medallist, Satpal, also showered praise on Sushil. “He had prepared well, otherwise it is not easy to win five straight bouts in day.
“Undoubtedly, he is the best wrestler India has ever produced. His humility and sincerity has made him what he is,” said Satpal.