Their humble origins
did not stop Vijender and Sushil from winning medals at the
EVER since Sushil
Kumar struck the 66 kg free-style wrestling bronze medal in the
Beijing Olympic Games, there has been a ceaseless stream of
visitors to the double-storeyed house at 496, Najafgarh Road in
the dusty Baaprola village, not very far from the house of
another famous resident — Virender Sehwag.
Baaprola village, and the Solanki clan in particular, have been
making regular visits to the house as Sushil’s triumph has
brought unbridled joy to the people of the area. The villagers
even collected Rs 1 lakh to be presented to Sushil after they
got the news of his victory.
— Dewan Singh Solanki and Kamla Devi, grandmother Gyano Devi
and siblings Sandeep, Amarjit, Manjit, Sunita, Sita and Deepika
have been welcoming the visitors with a smile. The house is full
of the medals and trophies won by the wrestler. A photo of
Sushil, holding a mace, gets a place of pride on the wall.
Born in 1983,
Sushil showed interest in wrestling when he was barely five,
recalls his father Dewan Singh. He learnt the rudiments of the
sport at the local Vivekanand Vyayamshala before joining the
Guru Hanuman Akhara. From there, he went to Satpal’s akhara at
the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi.
Satpal took Sushil
under his wings when he saw the potential of the 10-year-old at
the National School Games in 1994. Ever since, Sushil has been
horning his skills under Satpal’s coaching. Satpal is
confident that Sushil will bring greater glory to the sport and
was evident when he won the world cadet title, silver medal in
the Asian Championship and the gold medal in the Commonwealth
Championship in 2007. The Arjuna Awardee trained hard at
Belarus, Cuba and in China as part of his Olympic campaign,
though nobody expected him to bring a medal, after he finished
14th in the 60 kg category at the Athens Olympics four years
ago. But Sushil has been among the top 10 wrestlers for the past
four years. He had notched up some fine victories during this
period. He was seventh in the last World Championship at Baku (Ajerbaijan).
father Dewan Singh that the grappler’s grandfather Hoshiar
Singh and he himself wrestled in local akharas but the
exigencies of life forced them to pursue a job than to pursue
their passion for the game.
But when his son
entered the wrestling arena, Dewan Singh, a driver with
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, spared no effort to support his
son to pursue his chosen sport.
mother Kamla Devi, the secret of her son’s strength was the
pure ghee, which she used to feed him. Sushil has become the
darling of Baaprola and a role model for the youth of his
village. No wonder, thousands of people from the village choked
the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the wee hours of
Monday to welcome Sushil. A cavalcade of more than 100 vehicles
accompanied Sushil as he motored to his house with coach Satpal.
The locals believe that the village has been blessed after
Sushil’s medal win in the Olympics.
success brings luck to Baaprola or not, the young grappler has
reaped a rich harvest of more than Rs 1.5 crore in cash prizes
and an out-of-turn promotion in the Railways from a Ticket
Collector to Assistant Commercial Manager.