The Telegraph
Tuesday , October 12 , 2010
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Wrestler Sushil finds muse in Lionel Messi

New Delhi: Sushil Kumar always sports a smile. Ask him anything and he will answer smilingly. “That’s how I am. What can I do? I just don’t get angry,” the wrestler told The Telegraph on Monday. The world champion and Olympic bronze medallist, who added a Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold to his kitty on Sunday, was a relaxed man on Monday. “From 15th onwards, the camp begins for the Asian Games. We have to perform well,” Sushil said.

The grappler has been in terrific form ever since that August afternoon when he won the Olympic bronze. From then on, he has not looked back. “Life has changed a lot post 2008 August. But I have not. I get mobbed, I sign autographs, but I haven’t changed.

“Life is still from my room to the mat and from the mat to the room. You know I didn’t have a cellphone before 2008 Olympics. I have one now. Just to talk to my parents,” Sushil said smiling as usual.

But does this success bring with it the fear of failure? “I don’t have the fear of failure. Because the way I practice, I know I will not fail. But I think at the back of the mind it does work sometimes. But, generally, I am afraid of certain things, mostly the fear of injury,” he said.

“Wrestling is a very attacking game and it’s also very technical. One slip here and you may lose the bout. In the final on Sunday, I went for the Iranian lock and that was enough to give me the gold. I had the confidence that’s why I tried that. If I had a mental block, I wouldn’t have been here talking to so many mediapersons. Sushil Kumar would not have been Sushil Kumar if he had a fear of failure,” said a confident Sushil.

But does he follow any other sport other than wrestling? “Football,” replied Sushil in a flash. The grappler is a big fan of Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

“I like him a lot. I find him very similar to my style of wrestling – he’s always attacking. First time I saw him was some three years back. Woh paanch player ko dribble maara tha. Aur phir goal mara. Kya player hain (He dribbled past five players and then scored a goal. What a player!),” he said.

Sushil was referring to Messi’s Maradona-like goal against Getafe in a Spanish King’s Cup match in April 2007. “This World Cup I supported him big time, but they lost,” he added.

In fact, he is so memerised by the Argentine’s skills that Sushil tries to imitate Messi whenever he is on the field.

“You know he tries all the skills of Messi when we play football,” his friend and fellow gold medallist Yogeshwar Dutt said. The only difference between the two, as Sushil himself said, is “ I am right-footer and not a left-footer like Messi”.

After Delhi Games, Sushil’s next target is gold at the London Olympics. “I have to win that. We have two years’ time. Have to be at my peak in London,” he said.

But what if he bumps into Messi in London? “Will he play? I don’t know. If I meet him, I will surely take an autograph and click a photograph with him,” Sushil signed off .

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