Sushil Kumar’s akhara was on the way to Virender Sehwag’s cricket clinic and the Indian opener would spend time gaping at the wrestlers. He was astonished at the capacity of the wrestlers to keep training ceaselessly.

Najafgarh, on the outskirts of West Delhi, was dusty and rustic, rough too at times, but the wrestlers were a huge hit in the area. “They ensured a kind of peace even though the general reputation of the wrestlers tends to intimidate the common man. But I am proud of Sushil. I have followed his exploits from my growing up days in Najafgarh and I am not surprised he has come this far in Olympics,” said Sehwag here.

The ace Indian batsman watched Sushil’s bout on television at home and was a tad sad that the gold “eluded” his friend. “A gold medal would have been most-deserving for Sushil. The inspiration had come from Yogeshwar (Dutt) the night before and I was expecting Sushil to win the gold. Hats off to Sushil for his wonderful achievement! He made the nation proud.”

Immensely talented

Sehwag recalled, “We always knew Sushil was immensely talented. He was a very famous man in Najafgarh and I have watched him work hard. I and some of my friends would just marvel at the hours Sushil spent at the rope-climbing exercise. And then the push-ups! We would lose count because Sushil would just not stop. You can see all that hard work has paid. I am very happy for Sushil.”

Hailing Sushil’s achievement as a cause of national celebration, Sehwag stressed, “This medal is for the country and there is no doubt it will trigger a huge wave of motivation among youngsters to take to wrestling. It is a popular sport in Haryana and it is great that the State has given champions in various disciplines. Vijender (Singh), Sushil, Saina (Nehwal), Yogeshwar, Gagan (Narang) and many others have made a mark at the international level. Thanks to them, a sporting revolution is in the offing.”

“Congrats” was a simple text from Sehwag to his Najafgarh friend after he won the Olympics silver this evening. “I had wished him before the Olympics too. He is a very humble sportsman, amazingly cool-headed and most hard working. India is proud of him.”

More In: Other Sports | Sport