For Bapraula village dwellers, their son has won gold

August 21st, 2008 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) On any other day, hunting for an address in Bapraula village in Najafgarh would have been quite a task. But not anymore. Almost every passerby seems to know the direction to Sushil Kumar’s home, which was thronging with hundreds of well wishers with celebrations in full swing in honour of his winning a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics.Wrestling is a passion in Sushil Kumar’s family. His grandfather and father were both wrestling champions in their village. However, because of financial constraints they could never pursue their dreams and had to give it up for more conventional jobs.

“Sushil showed interest in wrestling when he was barely 10. I decided that, no matter what happens, I will not let my son give up his dream. Today, he has not only made me but the whole nation proud of his achievement,” an emotional Diwan Singh, Sushil’s father, told IANS at their Bapraula home.

A festive spirit hung over Sushil’s household. The gates of the white house were left open as innumerable people, some known to the family and many unknown, descended to congratulate the family members.

“For us, Sushil has won gold. He is the pride of our village… everyone seems to know where Bapraula is now, thanks to all the media attention,” said V.B. Singh, one of the residents of the area.

Kumar beat Kazakhstan’s Leonid Spiridonov in the last of the Repechage bouts in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling competition of the ongoing Beijing Olympics to win a bronze medal Wednesday.

Sushil Kumar’s room’s walls are adorned with medals and a large photograph of him receiving an award from former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Sitting in his son’s room, his proud father gave endless interviews to TV channels and faced a hundred cameras after the news broke.

“Yesterday (after Sushil Kumar won the medal) was maddening. We hardly slept for two hours at night. The entire village came over to our home, then there was the media. Sweets were being distributed and we hardly got a chance to let the news sink in that our son has won a medal and made the country proud,” Singh, dressed in a plain shirt and trousers, said.

“This morning things are quieter but the excitement of course is very much there,” he added.

Sitting in the adjacent room, was the wrestler’s mother, Kamla Devi, and the other women relatives who live together in a joint family. Ensuring that all guests received refreshments, Devi’s eyes shone each time her son’s name was mentioned.

“When we spoke to him last night, he said that he wanted to win gold. Of course, that’s what we all wanted and he was disappointed when he didn’t. But now that he has won bronze for the country in this sport after 52 years, he is happy. For us he has won gold,” the gushing mother, with her head covered, said.

Devi said that Sushil was always interested in wrestling.

“When he was in Class 6, he won his first wrestling competition. He was not even 11 years then. That’s when my husband decided that Sushil will follow his dream no matter what.

“Sushil caught the eye of Mahabali Satpal (Sushil’s coach) and since then he has been trained by him. We have never heard anyone, not his teachers in school, nor his coach, complain about him,” she said.

“He is very hardworking. Practices from 3 a.m.- 9 a.m. and then again from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. everyday,” his grandmother added, as the rest of the women nodded in unison.

One of Sushil’s brothers is an engineer while another is still studying.

His parents, though happy, had one point to make.

“The government should help young people like Sushil in pursuing their dreams. More often than not, many talented youth give up because they simply can’t afford to pursue their dreams. There should be coaching centres and stadiums closer to villages where most of the country’s population lives.

“Thanks to all the medals and cash prizes that he has won, Sushil has been able to continue his dream,” Devi said.

For now, however, the family is busy making arrangements for a grand homecoming for Sushil.

“Sushil is reaching at 1 a.m. Aug 23. The entire village is preparing for his homecoming. We will have a puja in the temple before going ahead with the celebrations at home,” Singh smiled.

“We have started getting a lot of marriage proposals for Sushil. But we want him to concentrate on the Commonwealth Games in 2010 before deciding anything,” the enthusiastic mother said.

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