Having lost his first bout before bouncing back, Sushil was devastated. “He just called to say he was upset, and refused to pick up the phone there,” mother Kamla Devi said while offering sweets to everyone squeezed in the modest home.
That was then. Wednesday evening was a different affair.
“He was single-minded in his determination to win a medal,” father Diwan Singh, a driver with MTNL, said. And his one inspiration was older cousin Sandeep, a wrestler who quit seven years ago due financial constraints. “Only one of us could have pursued that dream of wrestling, and we let Sushil do it and supported him all through,” said Sandeep, with no trace of regret.
But success did not come without struggle: there have often been days when his father did not have enough to feed the family of five. And though Sushil has been staying and training at Chhatrasal Stadium since 14, he has never had to miss his daily quota of milk, thanks to the family.
There were times, Singh said, when they had to do with just roti and water but “we have no complaints”.
Even in their hour of glory, it was time for a reality check. As the stream of visitors continued, there were faint but desperate whispers to arrange “enough money” and ensure they did not run out of sweets. Not that anyone minded contributed, though.
Younger brother Manjeet said: “To be frank, we expected him to do well but we did not expect the attention or the rewards. After all, no one bothered about him or his achievements before this; no one even thought he had a chance in Beijing.”
Mother Kamla Devi would, however, have nothing to do with all that. For, her son who created history — winning India’s second wrestling medal in Olympics after K D Jadhav (1952) — simply wants to return home now. “He called up after winning; he just said, ‘Mummy maine apna vada pura kar diya (I have kept my words)’.”
Rs 50 lakh for Sushil, promotion for coach
The Delhi government on Wednesday announced a reward of Rs 50 lakh for Sushil Kumar.
Kumar’s coach Satpal, who got a lot of credit for winning effort from his protégé in Beijing, would also be promoted soon, it was announced. Satpal works as deputy director (sports), in Delhi government’s Education Department. “The entire nation is proud of Sushil’s achievement,”Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said.