Indian grappler Sushil Kumar is all set to follow and replicate the heroics from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he clinched gold in 74 kg freestyle, as the Asian Games 2018 get underway in Jakarta and Palembang in two days.
The men’s wrestling starts on Sunday, August 19. The Indian wrestling team, but Sushil, had left for Jakarta on Tuesday, August 14, from New Delhi along with the national Asian Games contingent. Sushil is joining the Tata Motors-powered Yodhas following an intense training stint in Georgia.
Among the other medal hopefuls, the 35-year-old Olympian wrestler is considered a strong prospect to get India the yellow metal. Sushil will take the stage at the Asian quadrennial event 12 years since his bronze in the Doha 2006 edition.
Sushil’s presence will be a big boost for the Indian wrestling squad that is set to take on the mat, especially after his return from an extensive training programme in Georgia. The squad includes six men’s freestyle wrestlers, six men’s Greco-roman wrestlers and six women’s freestyle wrestlers.
The two-time Olympic medallist has excelled in every major event he has participated in – Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Championships and World Championships. Sushil silenced all the cynics, critics and doubters who were questioning his fitness and age with a spectacular performance at Gold Coast earlier this year as he completed gold medal hat-trick.
In a first, Tata Motors have landed financial metal to the sport in India as leading commercial vehicle as the Principal Sponsor of the Indian wrestling in a three-year deal with Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), facilitated by sports management company Sporty Solutionz. During an event on August 1 to mark the alliance, Sushil has asserted that the tie-up will prove to be a big boost for Indian wrestlers and that performing consistently and winning more medals will bring in more corporate sponsors.
“WFI and Tata Motors joining hands to promote the sport in the best way possible should be an eye-opener for all of us. Why I am saying this is because if you perform consistently and win medals sponsorships will automatically follow. WFI has set a very good example and I am happy for fellow wrestlers,” Sushil said during WFI-Tata Motors event.
During a special send-off ceremony by Tata Motors for Indian wrestlers ahead of Asian Games, another big medal hope Bajrang Punia hasreiterated that the Idian grapplers will continue with their medal winning performances in the Asian Games 2018 to reciprocate the Tata Motors gesture to support Indoa.
“The Tata Motors recognition and support to Indian Wrestling is not just a big morale booster for the fraternity, their faith will take this sport to the next level. We have an added responsibility to live up to the expectations of the nation and our supporters. We are committed to reciprocate the inspiring gesture from Tata Motors with success in the Asian Games,” said Bajrang.
The WFI-Tata Motors deal marks one of the biggest non-cricket, sports-brand association in the country, where the world’s 4th largest commercial vehicle player Tata Motors will be going beyond mere sponsorship and act as a catalyst to promote the sport, encourage and develop young and rising sporting talent, enabling them to achieve their aspirations. Under the deal, the company will support top performing 50 wrestlers (both men and women), across categories, on both domestic and international circuit starting with Asian Games 2018.
Following are the members of the Indian Wrestling Squad that will be vying for glory in Jakarta and Palembang Asian Games 2018:
Men’s Freestyle: Sandeep Tomar (57 kg), Bajrang Punia (65 kg), Sushil Kumar (74 kg), Pawan Kumar (86 kg), Mausam Khatri (97 kg) and Sumit (125 kg).
Greco-Roman: Gyanender (60 kg), Manish (67 kg), Gurpreet Singh (77 kg), Harpreet Singh (87 kg), Hardeep Singh (97 kg) and Naveen (130 kg).
Women’s Freestyle: Vinesh Phogat (50 kg), Pinki (53kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg), Sakshi Malik (62 kg), Divya Kakran (68kg) and Kiran (76kg).