Whatever I have won is because of the training imparted by coach Kuldeep, says Naveen

Naveen Malik is delighted to get the 74kg gold medal won by Sushil Kumar in 2018.

Naveen Malik is delighted to get the 74kg gold medal won by Sushil Kumar in 2018. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

‘My next target is the World championships’

Y.B. Sarangi


Newly-crowned Commonwealth Games men’s freestyle 74kg champion Naveen Malik’s achievement may enable his guru Kuldeep Singh to get rid of the ‘Greco Roman coach’ tag.

Kuldeep displayed his appreciation for his 19-year-old student’s accomplishment when he donned his uniform to welcome the fellow Navyman on his return from Birmingham at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

“As he was the chief coach of the Indian Greco Roman team, the tag remained with him. But coach sahab is good at teaching both freestyle and Greco Roman wrestlers. Whatever I have won is because of the good training imparted by him,” Naveen told The Hindu.

“My father travelled 40km from our village (Pugthala) to the Raipur academy in Sonipat every morning to provide milk to me and my elder brother. It’s because of my family’s sacrifices and my coach’s training that I have achieved this.”

Naveen is delighted to get the 74kg gold medal won by Sushil Kumar in 2018.

“Sushil Kumar inspired every Indian wrestler when he claimed the 2008 Olympics bronze medal. It feels good that I am in his weight and got the gold he won four years ago,” said Naveen, who followed in the footsteps of his elder brother Parveen, now a 67kg Greco Roman wrestler, seven years ago.

An Asian championships bronze medallist in 70kg, Naveen surprised all when he won the Commonwealth Games selection trials for 74kg. The field had the best wrestlers – including Worlds bronze medallist Narsingh Yadav, Asian medallists Amit Dhankar, Gourav Baliyan and Jitender Kumar and World cadet champion Sagar Jaglan – from 74kg and 79kg.

“I had no doubts. I was not bothered about my opponents,” said Naveen.

He was equally confident in Birmingham. “My toughest bout was against Nigerian Ogbonna John. But everyone looked forward to the final against Pakistan’s Muhammad Tahir because of the India-Pakistan rivalry. I was determined to beat him,” said Naveen, who impressed everyone with his spectacular throws.

“Naveen has got fine movements and is disciplined. He is good in both attack and defence,” said Kuldeep.

Even after his Commonwealth Games success, Naveen is not thinking about a break. “My next target is the World championships next month. I have to prepare for the trials,” said Naveen.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 6:41:00 pm |