Sushil Kumar is the only Indian to have won a wrestling world title in men’s freestyle wrestling and his former colleague Yogeshwar Dutt is backing the double Olympic medallist to come good again at the ongoing UWW World Senior Wrestling Championships at Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Competing in the 74kg, Sushil is back at the World Championships after a gap of eight years and the 2010 world champion is eyeing a fourth Olympic berth.
“Sushil is one of the most experienced wrestlers right now. He has won two Olympic medals and one World Championship gold medal, that in itself speaks a lot about him. His experience will help him a lot in this World Championship,” Dutt was quoted as saying by the Wrestling Federation of India.
Dutt, who won the 60kg bronze in 2012 London Olympics where Sushil won the 66kg silver, counts Sushil among his medal favourites along with Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik.
“I’ve a lot of expectations from our wrestlers especially Bajrang, Sushil, Sakshi and Vinesh. Over the past few years, our performance has been really good. We’ve won medals in different tournaments through the year and I have high hopes,” he said.
The run-up to the Worlds has been spectacular for Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat. Bajrang triumphed at all four events he competed this season – Dan Kolov, Asian Championship Ali Aliev and Yasar Dogu – and will go into the Championships as the world number one and top seed in 65kg.
For Vinesh, the season began in a new weight category as she moved up to 53kg from 50kg. She took some time to settle in her new class but still made five finals, winning three golds Yasar Dogu, Grand Prix of Spain and Poland Open.
However, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik has been struggling on the international circuit. She has not won a title since her triumph at the 2017 Commonwealth Championships.
The championship is offering six Olympic quotas in six categories in all three styles.
“This World Championship is a great chance for us to win maximum Olympic quotas,” he added.
“The entire team has worked really hard and if they finish in the top six and get Olympic quotas, they’ll get ample time to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics and work on their shortcomings with a free mind.”
With PTI Inputs