The 35-year-old medal favourite went out with a whimper to Adam Batirov from Bahrain as he let slip a 2-1 lead to lose 3-5, despite vocal support from Indian fans.
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“I was also not expecting this result. I had prepared, but wins and losses are all part and parcel of sport,” Kumar told reporters, saying he does not take criticism to heart.
“There is no loss of stamina at this age. And no pressure as well. I come far from all that. I enjoy sports and will continue to do that,” he added.
Kumar’s chance of making the repechage round also went up in smoke after Batirov lost his quarter-final to Japan’s Yuhi Fujinami. If Batirov had made the final, Kumar would have had a chance to win bronze through repechage.
Kumar, who won a bronze and a silver at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics respectively, lost his first bout in more than four years at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia in July.
He was exempted from the Indian trials for the Asian Games, given his past results including winning his third Commonwealth gold in Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
“I have (not) played (many) big tournaments after four years and that probably is where the gap lies. I would prepare harder for the upcoming events. Will improve on my mistakes and move forward,” said Kumar.
Indian media and officials came down heavily on Kumar’s failure in the warm-up event in Georgia while questioning his free pass to the Asian Games squad.
Kumar though looked composed after the loss.
“You have all seen me win and lose but I stay unaffected. I will only quit once I start feeling tired in a loss. I am fine now and raring to go,” he said.
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ELECTIONS 2018 | THE FIRST ROUND | PART 02