On this day in 2008: A “Kainchi daav” that won Sushil Kumar his first Olympic medal at Beijing


Sushil Kumar‘ success story in Beijing 2008 was full of twists and turns. He went into Beijing as an unknown quantity, was backing his skills but still, a medal seemed a distinct possibility with respect to the fans point of view. All eyes were on Shooting, Tennis, Boxing to get medals. Wrestling did not come close in anyone’s dream but Sushil was working silently towards his goal. He had moved to 66kg category and was pitted against Ukraine’s Stadnik. He lost the bout and all his hard work upto Olympics looked wasted. Stadnik reached the finals and Sushil got a “repechage” lifeline.

He won his next two bouts to set up a bronze medal clash with Kazakhstan’s Spirindonov. He took the game to Kazak and won the first round 2-1. Spiridonov was not ready to cave in and fought the next built with more intensity. Both wrestlers were not able to win a point. After two minutes of time, the round went into tiebreaker through clinch. Spiridonov won the toss and targeted Sushil’s left leg. Sushil Kumar took the gamble of leg scissor move (kainchi) but could not pull it off and Spiridonov won the bout to take it to last round. At the end of the third round also neither opponent was able to score a point.

The round was again going to be decided by clinch bad unfortunately for Sushil he again lost the toss. He was at loss position as Spiridonov again targeted his left leg with no more options Sushil again went for “kainchi” and this time executed it to perfection to win the round and also the bronze medal. It was a feat achieved after 56 years, since KD Jadhav’s bronze medal at 1952 Olympics, and bought wrestling back into contention. He got the attention, became a contender and got a silver in 2012 Olympics to became first Indian athlete to win 2 medals.

Spiridonov had a 99.99999 and Sushil had 0.00001 chance. Sushil was in a loss position and managed to convert the slimmest of chances into a medal to become a name that won’t be forgotten.