Recovering from career-threatening injuries, Yogeshwar Dutt gave a scintillating performance to achieve his potential and win a bronze medal on his third attempt at the 2012 London Olympics.
“Going through the injuries was a difficult period for me. I was keen to win a medal. I trained hard and god listened to my prayers,” said Dutt after winning the coveted medal in the 60kg category.
“I was pulled down by injuries in 2009 which robbed me of nearly one year. After that, I could not reduce my weight too often (to take part in various events). That would have made me weaker. So, I selected important events and tried to participate in three-four events a year. I did a lot of planning for it.
“All the time I used to think about the Olympics. Even when I was injured, I used to think about the Olympics. Day and night, even while eating and before sleeping, the Olympics medal was in my mind.”
Dutt, who lost to multiple world champion and Olympic medallist Besik Kudukhov of Russia in the pre-quarterfinals, beat a couple of worlds medallists – Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gomez and Iranian Masoud Esmaelipour – in the repechage rounds to make it to the bronze-medal match.
The match against Ri Jong-myong was memorable as Dutt rallied to beat the North Korean spectacularly by holding his legs and rolling him over several times.
“When I had a tight grip on the North Korean wrestler in the last bout, I knew that I could win. After applying that grip, there was almost no chance for him to make a comeback,” said Dutt. “I had problems (in seeing) due to the (eye) injury, but I had the determination to win a medal. I was not worried about the injury. The medal worked as a healing agent.”
Dutt’s homecoming was an unforgettable experience for him. “There was such a big crowd and it was difficult to move ahead. There were celebrations throughout the night. People kept on coming till 3 a.m. My village (Bhainswal Kalan in Haryana’s Sonipat district) became known to everyone because of my achievement,” he said.
Later, after London Olympics silver medallist Kudukhov’s death in a car accident in 2013, a retested sample of the Russian returned a positive result in 2016. However, the large-hearted Dutt refused to accept an upgraded silver medal and wanted Kudukhov’s family to retain it.
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