India champion wrestler Sushil Kumar said on Saturday that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold should inspire him to bigger success at the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro. (Day 11 Blog | Results | Medals)
India's only individual two-time Olympic medallist is now eyeing the Olympic gold but in a new weight category of 74kg. He had won the bronze and silver in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London in his pet 66kg, which was omitted from the Olympic roster last year. (India Roundup: Pallikal-Joshana Grab Gold, India Pick Up Medals Aplenty on Penultimate Day)
The gold in Glasgow was Sushil's second in the 74kg category but first in a major event. He had beaten Pakistan's Qamar Abbas in the final in just one minute and 47 seconds to win the yellow metal. (International Wrap: Usain Bolt Steals Glasgow Show, England Top Medals)
"This medal means a lot to me. It is my second gold in 74kg and first in a major international event. I had worked hard for it and now I am happy that I have got it. It has boosted my confidence a lot since 74kg is new for me. This medal will stand in good stead as I prepare for the Rio Games," Sushil, who was given a hero's welcome on his return Saturday, told IANS.
Sushil was in dominating form and made his victories seem easy. (Also read: Babita and Vinesh Phogat Honoured for Their Wrestling Medals)
Asked if the field was too weak, Sushil said: "No. It was a good field. It looked easy because of my preparations. I was in top form. The past six months were really tough in terms of preparations. I was determined to win this medal."
Sushil, who now weighs 70kg, said the next two years will be crucial.
"The next two years will be crucial. I have made a gradual progress in putting on weight. I have just added fourkg and I am comfortable with it. Fighting in a new weight category is a challenging task and now my target is to win the gold in Rio," said Sushil. (Read: Indian Wrestlers Wrap Up With Two Golds, a Silver and a Bronze)
The two-time Olympic medallist said the performance of the Indian wrestlers in Glasgow was encouraging for the growth of the sport in India. The wrestlers finished second in the discipline with 13 medals -- five golds, six silvers and two bronzes.
"We have won 13 medals this time. It is no mean feat. This shows how Indian wrestlers have improved since the Beijing Olympics. We are also getting great support from the government who have also realised the potential of the sport. We have the best training facilities, youth development programmes and exposure tours. Things will only improve in the coming days," he said.
The Najafgarh grappler was also impressed with the performance of the women wrestlers, who won seven of the 13 medals, including two golds, three silvers and a bronze.
"Women's wrestling in India has finally come of age. They have won nearly 50 percent of the medals in wrestling. It is really good to see them dominate the show," he concluded.