A day after the medal, Sushil stays as unassuming

August 21st, 2008 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 21 (IANS) No mobiles and no milling crowds around. Just a few mediamen, asking him about the ‘Day After’. And he himself came to the Media Centre to meet - in his own words - “the people who have promoted me all these days”.After his path-breaking wrestling bronze medal at the Beijing Olympic Games Wednesday, Sushil Kumar remains the same modest man he was earlier.

Indeed it has been so easy to contact and talk to Sushil - a big change from what one had to experience with gold winning shooter Abhinav Bindra. Maybe, this is because Sushil - a Railways ticket inspector - does not keep a mobile. “I don’t need one and my coach has a mobile. And I am always with him or in the Village.”

Sometimes communication can be achieved even without mobiles, which in any case go unanswered when a sportsperson attains top glory.

Has life changed? What about the phone calls? What about the rewards and riches that await him when he gets back? What did he do this morning? The questions came in fast and furious, faster than the holds his rivals had applied during his bouts on Wednesday.

Forever smiling, Sushil - sometimes looking bewildered at all the attention - kept answering patiently.

Life has not changed one bit. “I slept very well, better than all these months and for the whole of last year when I was keyed up for Olympics. There was no tension of training or matches today. I got up as usual and prayed first to Bajrang Bali, as is my habit. Then some fruits and milk as breakfast and meeting my colleagues.”

Any message from or to the family? “A television channel reporter contacted my parents and I got to speak to them,” he said. “I spoke to my father and he said, ‘Umeed to gold ki thi, magar agli baar gold zaroor lana’ and he was very happy”.

Continuing on his father, he added, “For the last 10-12 years he has been getting milk in the morning for me, regardless of whether it is raining or hot or whatever the weather.”

Is he excited about the riches that await him? “Sirji, woh dekhenge jab milega. (I’ll think about them when I get it).”

A promotion is in the offing, someone informed him. The Railways have announced a reward of Rs 5.5 million and a letter of promotion to Assistant Manager’s rank awaits his return home. The Delhi government has announced another Rs. 5 million. Has he heard about them? “Yes, people have been telling me that. It is good but we should take care of our training, competition, diet and so on. More importantly, when we are coming up.”

Anybody special who helped him? The diplomat in him, smiled and said, “Everybody. All my coaches, Padmashree Satpal, my parents, media and all others.”

What was this bit about no doctors being attached to the wrestling squad? “Yes we could have had a masseur or physio to help us recover. Kartar SInghji gave me the massage in between (Repechage) bouts. Maybe we will have that from now,” he added.

A word about his teammates? “They were all good. Yogeshwar Dutt lost to the wrestler, who won a bronze and in boxing Vijender, Akhil and Jitender have been very good. And above all, it feels good to have won more than one medal. That makes us proud,. In future, there will be more from wrestling and other sports,” he said.

The questions were running out, but Sushil’s patience did not. He waited till the last guy had asked the last question. Maybe now we have a champion for the masses.

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