India’s top wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt won a memorable gold medal that ended the country’s 28-year-long wait for the elusive Asiad Gold Medal in free style wrestling.
India claimed five medals overall in the wrestling event and could have perhaps doubled its gold count had double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar participated but he opted to pull out of the Asian Games.
Nevertheless Sushil’s substitute Narsingh Yadav did well to pick up the bronze. India’s talented young brigade of Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia who flourished at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games showed their mettle to clinch medals as well. The fifth medal was added by the experienced Geetika Jakhar who had earlier won the silver at 2006 Asian Games.
Below is a recap of the event with a special recap of Yogeshwar’s win.
Yogeshwar Dutt – A True Champion
Yogeshwar’s commitment to the sport has always been exemplary. Just days after losing his father, Dutt had gone on to not only participate in the 2006 Doha Asian Games but also bring back a bronze medal. In these games, Yogeshwar put in a sterling display to bag a Gold.
India wrote a golden chapter of her wrestling history as Yogeshwar Dutt brought home India’s only wrestling gold medal from the Incheon Asian Games. It wasn’t easy even for one of India’s biggest champion wrestlers as he had to do it the hard way.
Big Comeback by Yogeshwar in the Semi Finals
Down and out and trailing 5-7 to Chinese Katai Yeerlanbieke in the second period of the Men’s 65kg Freestyle semi-final, Yogeshwar Dutt showed why he is one of India’s most resilient wrestlers. Champions look for just an opening and Yogeshwar’s constant vigilance for his opponent’s weakness finally paid off towards the dying minutes of the second period.
Yogeshwar pinned his spirited Chinese opponent to reverse the lead and make it to the Asian Games gold medal match.After the match was over, Yogeshwar crossed the playing arena and then sat down, completely drained off all energy. Such was the stupendous effort by Yogeshwar, that his coaches had to come and carry him off.
Triump In the Finals
It was extremely heartening to see such a gritty wrestler fighting his heart out to reach the final. Yogeshwar faced Zalimkhan Yusupov of Tajikistan in the final, and here was another wrestler who was not ready to give up easily. It was a battle of attrition and the Tajik wrestler didn’t leave him much ground. Deftly avoiding Dutt’s leg tackles, he kept on frustrating the Indian.
But Dutt displayed his wealth of experience in dealing with such a determined wrestler. Mixing between sharp attacks and passive fights, Dutt secured a single point lead and defended pretty well. With the point in the bag, Yogeshwar kept away from trouble smartly, to claim the gold.
Complete Set of Medals
Yogeshwar Dutt’s Asian Games gold medal thus completed his stellar resume which already has an Olympic bronze, Asian Wrestling Championship gold and the Commonwealth Games gold. Next Stop Olympics Gold !
Bajrang Punia and Narsingh Yadav
Bajrang Punia had given numerous examples of his immense talent even as a junior. The 20-year-old had earlier won a silver medal in the junior-level category at the 2012 Asian Championship. Bajrang established himself as one of India’s best young wrestler by clinching the silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Championships this year.
The youngster gave his all in the men’s freestyle 61kg final but had to settle for silver as he lost to the more experienced Iranian Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari 1-3.
2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Narsingh Yadav who was picked for the 74kg category after Sushil Kumar pulled out, did well to return with a medal. He won the bronze medal by getting the better of Japan’s Daisuke Shimada in the playoff.
Other Men’s freestyle wrestlers
Luck ran out for 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Amit Kumar as he lost to Fumitaka Morishita of Japan in men’s freestyle 57kg category in the pre-quarter-finals . Also bowing out in the same round was Parveen Rana in the men’s freestyle 70kg category. He lost to Takafumi Kojima of Japan.
Satyawart Kadian lost his bronze medal bout to Mamed Ibragimov of Kazakhstan 0-3 in the men’s 97kg freestyle category in a bout where the Kazakh wrestler tried every dirty trick in the book, including stubbing the eyes of the Indian with his thumb.
20-year-old Vinesh Phogat who had won a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, secured a bronze medal in the women freestyle 48kg category. Vinesh needed two minutes and 31 seconds to defeat Narangerel Erdenesukh of Mongolia 4-0.
In women’s freestyle 63 kg category, Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist Geetika Jakhar won a bronze medal by defeating Vietnam’s Thi Hien Ly 5-0 within a minute.
But Babita Kumari who boasts of a Commonwealth Games gold medal and a bronze at the World Championships had tough luck. In 55kg freestyle semi-final, Babita faced a formidable opponent in 3-time Olympic Champion Saori Yoshida and went down to the Japanese. The Haryana grappler later on lost her bronze medal bout to Zhong Xuechun of China.
The Greco-Roman grapplers did not fare too well. The Greco-Roman wrestlers spearheaded by 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ravinder Singh had returned home with two bronze medals at the last edition but this time they came back empty-handed.
Hopes were pinned on Ravinder Singh but he lost his pre-quarter-final bout to Almat Kebispayev. Gurpreet Singh advanced to the quarter-finals of the 75kg category where he went down to Payam Bouyeri of Iran.
Krishnakant Yadav was the saving grace of the Greco-Roman wrestling brigade. But he too squandered his chance for a medal as he was beaten by Iran’s Saeid Abdvali 0-3 in the bronze medal play-off round.
Indian Wrestlers has been reaping the rewards regularly at multi-sporting events in recent times. Champion grapplers like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt’s myriad achievements and especially their Olympic medal-winning feats have inspired a whole new generation of talented grapplers.
The future of the sport thus looks very bright and with the same kind of preparation and planning, India should target winning more medals in the sport of wrestling at Rio Olympics.