Know Your Olympians
Sushil Kumar Solanki-Wrestler
Beating the heat in the wrestling ring with extraordinary moves, he has grounded even world's best. The kind of energy, power, balance and swiftness and the combination of these all that he shows, is significant. He seems unbeatable when he charges in full force during the bouts. He's a man of substance who has raised from dusk to dawn.
The Early days
Born on May 26, 1983, India's star wrestler Sushil Kumar Solanki popularly known as Sushil Kumar belongs to a typical Jat family and comes from a small village called Baprola in South West Delhi. His father Diwan Singh Solanki was a DTC bus driver and mother Kamla Devi served the house. Sushil took up wrestling after he got inspired by his cousin Sandeep and father, who also happened to be wrestlers. With financial security bothering the family, Sandeep quit going to the ring. But Sushil didn't.
Sushil Kumar had other ideas escalating his mind. Seeing the spark in son’s eyes, his family made sure that he attains greater heights in not-so-wrestling-loving nation. They made sure that he was fed with all the necessary dietary supplements by sending him tinned milk, ghee and vegetables.
Sushil started training at the Chhatrasal Stadium's Akhara (ring) at the age of 14. Trained at the akhada by Indian pehlwans Yashvir and Ramphal, and later by Arjuna awardee Satpal and then at the Railways camp by coach Gyan Singh.
Before heading for the Beijing Olympics, Sushil was short of funds and lacked facilities. The Indian Olympic Committee (IOC) provided poor training for wrestlers. Even the 2008 Olympic team was not spared. But this too, couldn’t stop the brave hearted athlete. Kumar beat Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan in the repechage round in the Beijing Olympics, 2008 to return home with a bronze.
Sushil endured tough training conditions which included sharing a mattress with a fellow wrestler and sharing a dormitory with twenty others. At the age of 18 he became state champion.
His first success came at the 'World Cadet Games' in 1998 where he bagged the gold medal in his weight category. He followed this with grabbing gold in the Asian Junior Wrestling Championships in the year 2000.
Moving out of the junior competition, Solanki won the bronze medal at the Asian Wrestling Championships in 2003 and followed that up with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships. He confirmed fourth spot in the World Championships in 2003, but this went largely unnoticed by the Indian media as he fared badly in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, in the 60 kg class placing 14th.
He won gold medals at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in 2005 and 2007. He ranked seventh in the 2007 World Wrestling Championships and won a bronze medal in 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He has also qualified for 2012 Summer Olympics taking place at London. Sushil Kumar Solanki was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2006.
2008 Beijing Olympics
Out of the field of 21, 11 wrestlers including Solanki obtained a bye to the 1/8 round. He lost to Andriy Stadnik from Ukraine in the first round of the 66 kg freestyle wrestling event, leaving his medal hopes hinging on the repechage. Solannki defeated American Doug Schwab in the first repechage round and Belarusian Albert Batyrov in the second repechage round. In the bronze medal match on 20 August 2008 Kumar beat Spiridonov 3:1, with scores of 2-1, 0-1, 2-0 in the three rounds. Sushil Kumar Solanki disclosed that he had no masseur during the three bouts he won within a span of 70 minutes to take the bronze. The team manager Kartar Singh who is a former Asian Games medallist acted as the masseur for him.
2010 World Wrestling Championships, Moscow
Sushil Kumar Solanki created history when he became the first Indian to win a gold medal at FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships held in Moscow on 12 September 2010.
Sushil Kumar Solanki beat local hope & crowd favourite Alan Gogaev of Russia 3-1 in the finals for the gold in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling category. Earlier, he had won a thrilling semi-final match against European champion Jabrail Hasanov of Azerbaijan 4-3 to make it to the final (He scored a 2 point move in the last 5 seconds to come from 2-3 behind). After getting a bye in the first round, Sushil had routed Akritidis Anastasios of Greece 6-0 in the second round, beat Martin Sebastian of Germany 4-1 in the pre-quarters & demolished Mongolian Buyanjav Batzorig 9-1 in the quarter-finals.
2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi
Sushil Kumar Solanki won gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi on 10 October 2010. He beat Heinrich Barnes of South Africa 7-0 in the finals in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling category. The South African wrestler could not endure more than three and half minutes in front of Sushil. In fact the bout had to be stopped by the referee in the second round. Earlier, in the semifinals, Sushil defeated Famara Jarjou of the Gambia 3-0 in a record 9 seconds. In the quarterfinals Sushil Kumar defeated Muhammad Salman of Pakistan 10-0 in 46 seconds.
The star Wrestler has been chosen as India's flag bearer for London Olympics opening ceremony on July 27.