Sushil Kumar wins third consecutive Gold at CWG

ESPN staff5 Minute Read

Sushil Kumar became the first Indian wrestler to win three Golds at the Commonwealth Games after defeating South Africa's Johannes Botha in the 74 kg final. Sushil did not lose a single point in this year's edition and won in the final by technical superiority in just 80 seconds.

He had won the gold in 66kg in 2010, and gold in 74kg in 2014. He defeated Jevon Balfour of Canada and Muhammad Asad Butt of Pakistan in his first two bouts by technical superiority, by scores of 11-0 and 10-0, respectively. He beat Conor Evans of Australia in his semi-final by pin fall inside two minutes.

Earlier, Rahul Aware won India's maiden Gold medal in wrestling at this edition of the Commonwealth Games after defeating Canada's Steven Takahashi 3-1 (by points) in the 57kg final.

Babita Kumari opened India's wrestling medal tally at the 2018 Commonwealth Games after losing to Canada's Diana Weicker in the final of the 53 kg category on Thursday. Weicker won 3-1 by points.

Sushil is also the only Indian to win two medals at the Olympics. He had won bronze in Beijing in the 2008 Olympics and also won silver at the London Olympics in 2012.

Sushil, 34, has not made the news for a positive reason since four years ago when he won gold at the Glasgow Games. Having almost single handedly dragged the sport into sporting and mainstream respectability, Sushil now is synonymous with controversies the sport had hoped to leave behind.

There was the entire saga of doping claims and counterclaims that saw both him and Narsingh Yadav, his rival in the 74kg category, miss the Olympic games. While Narsingh is now serving a dope ban, Sushil made a comeback at the nationals last year. What should have been a tale of redemption, was mired after three rivals conceded bouts to him in increasingly farcical manners.

There was the entire saga of doping claims and counterclaims that saw both him and Narsingh Yadav, his rival in the 74kg category, miss the Olympic games. While Narsingh is now serving a dope ban, Sushil made a comeback at the nationals last year. What should have been a tale of redemption, was mired after three rivals conceded bouts to him in increasingly farcical manners.

Just a couple of months later, Parveen Rana, another rival who had obsequiously touched Sushil's feet at the Nationals, claimed supporters of the two-time Olympic medalist had beaten both him and his brother after an ill-tempered bout for the Commonwealth Games squad.

So it didn't come as a shock, when just a few days before the start of the Commonwealth Games, the rumor mills went on overdrive. The story was that Sushil's name - India's most decorated Olympic athlete - was not in the official site. It turned out to be a programming error rather than a conspiracy to exclude him from the games.

He has a few similar tales. "Some time back I was walking with a coach and his lace was undone. I told him, 'coach saab lace bandh do, warna gir jaoge.(Coach sir, tie your laces or you will fall down) And then people will say Sushil has pushed you over."

Speaking to ESPN before the tournament, he said, "I've had people telling me to retire since when I first won an Olympic medal. They asked me 'What more do you have to achieve.' What would people who thought qualifying for the Olympics was the biggest achievement know (about when to retire)?

"I don't have to prove anything to anyone. Not even to myself. I will compete until I can't compete anymore."

Rahul Aware wins 57kg Gold in maiden appearance

JS Grewal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Aware lost a couple of points early, but then got three points of his own by taking Takahashi out of the danger zone. He then had a brief injury scare with 99 seconds remaining on the clock but returned with even greater aggression after being tended to by a physio, eventually winning the bout with the scoreline reading 15-7.

Aware had won the Commonwealth Championships in Melbourne in 2011, competing then in the 55kg category. He won his first two bouts on technical superiority, beating England's George Ramm and Thomas Cicchini of Australia without conceding a point. In his semi-final, he beat Muhammad Bilal of Pakistan 12-8 in a see-sawing contest.

Aware, who hails from Kolhapur, was in line to go to the Rio Olympics but was edged out by Sandeep Tomar. This was his first chance to win a big medal at a mega-games and become part of the discussion around the country's top wrestlers in lighter weights.

AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Babita Kumari Phogat wins 53 kg silver

This is Babita third medal at the Commonwealth Games, following a silver in 51kg in Delhi in 2010, and the gold in Glasgow four years ago in 55kg. She picked up two out of her three wins in the preliminary stages via pin fall, beating Carissa Holland of Australia in 36 seconds, and Deepika Dilhani of Sri Lanka in 48 seconds.

Speaking about her loss in the final, she said, "I gave my 100 per cent, whatever the result and I am happy with that. I am not disappointed that I could not win a medal for the second successive time but I am disappointed because I came so close to winning a gold but could not win.

"Maybe I erred a bit somewhere. 1/100th of a second is enough to change the dynamics of a wrestlnig bout but I fought hard. I think I lacked a bit in attack. My knees are not in a best shape but they are better. Injury is a player's ornament, we have to live with it."

Babita's toughest match in the group stage was against the Nigerian Bose Samuel, which she won 2-1. Weicker led 1-0 after the first round as Babita was docked a point for passivity. Weicker was the favourite going into the bout and her stronger defence helped her win the bout as she successfully took points off Babita whenever she tried to attack her.

Babita became the first Indian female wrestler to take part in three editions of the Commonwealth Games and is also the first Indian woman wrestler to medal in three different editions of the Games.

Kiran bags bronze in 76kg category

Kiran added another medal to India's tally by winning bronze in the 76 kg category after defeating Mauritius' Katouskia Pariadhaven by fall as she led 10-0 withing the first two minutes.

This was her first outing at the Commonwealth Games, she beat Danielle Sino Guemde of Cameroon 11-1 before Blessing Onyebuchi of Nigeria beat her 10-0 in the semi-final. She then played the bronze medal bout via the repechage route.