Sunil Kumar wins Bronze in 87kg Greco-Roman Wrestling at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games

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Pune, October 5, 2023: India’s Sunil Kumar won bronze in the men’s Greco-Roman 87 kg at the Asian games 2023 in Hangzhou, China on Wednesday. Sunil Kumar won against Atabek Azisbekov of Kazhakshtan 2:1 to ensure victory by point in the bronze medal match. He is supported by Lakshya Sports through the Edelgive Foundation (Sponsor).

Sunil Kumar’s bronze medal is India’s first Greco-Roman medal since Guangzhou 2010 Asian games. Ravinder Singh(60Kg) and Sunil Kumar Rana(66Kg) won bronze medals at the Guangzhou edition.

According to Manoj Dhankar, India’s Greco-Roman coach at Asian games. “The defense from the ground position is the biggest weakness in India’s Greco-Roman wrestlers. We specifically worked on this aspect during our 18-day training stint in Azerbaijan, where we made Sunil practice with top wrestlers including the world champion in his category. He would practice defense from ‘par terre’ at least 50 times a day. It worked well here “.

Sunil Kumar lost his father in a road accident in 2010. His mother (Anita Kumar) and elder brother (Sumit Kumar) supported him in the most challenging phase of his life. His family would lease their farmland to locals and his mother would take loans to support Sunil Kumar.

In the late 2014, Sunil Kumar and his coach took an important decision. Like every young Indian wrestler, Sunil Kumar was first introduced to freestyle wrestling in Nidani. He could not make an impact in freestyle. It was during his stint at Mehar Singh Akhada in Rohtak, Haryana, that he was first introduced to Greco-Roman wrestling.

“Greco, Kya? (What?)”
That was Sunil Kumar’s immediate reaction when his coach first told him about participating in a ‘different’ format to fulfill his Olympic dream. In the late 2016, Sunil Kumar won a bronze at the Asian Junior Championship in Manila, Philippines to signal the revival of Greco-Roman wrestling in India. He went on to win two more Asian Junior bronze medals in successive years before transitioning to the senior category in 2018.

In the last two decades, only three Greco-Roman wrestlers have qualified for Olympic Games. Mukesh Khatri(Athens), Ravindra Khatri and Hardeep Singh (Rio). Sunil Kumar will certainly spearhead the Indian challenge in the years to come.