Owing a lot to many

"My village is now known to everybody because of my achievement," says Yogeshwar Dutt, the Olympic bronze medal winner, to Y. B. Sarangi.

Yogeshwar Dutt has the qualities of a champion, and virtues like humility, respect for others and extending a helping hand to the needy, which make him even more endearing.   -  PTI

From the danger of losing one leg due to a knee-injury to winning an Olympic bronze medal, Yogeshwar Dutt has come a long way. The freestyle wrestler’s story is one of passion for the sport and his perseverance and solid determination in realising his dream.

Thanks to him, Bhainswal Kalan, a nondescript village, some 20 kilometres away from Sonepat in Haryana, has become very popular now.

Yogeshwar has the qualities of a champion, and virtues like humility, respect for others and extending a helping hand to the needy, which make him even more endearing.

After winning an Olympic medal in his third attempt, the 29-year-old wrestler spoke to Sportstar about his struggles in life and ultimate success.

Excerpts:

Question: You battled injuries to achieve your dream of winning an Olympic medal. How difficult was it?

Answer: My dream of winning an Olympic medal was not fulfilled in Beijing (2008). Going through the injuries was a difficult period for me. In my heart of hearts, I was keen on winning a medal. I trained hard and God listened to my prayers.

How did you plan your journey after recovering from the injuries?

After 2008, my sole target was the 2012 Olympics. I wanted to participate in more and more competitions, but I was pulled down by injuries in 2009 and this 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 events such as the World Championship, Commonwealth Championship etc. I tried to participate in three to four events a year. I did a lot of planning for it.

How did you keep yourself motivated during your long and lonely stay in countries like South Africa and Georgia?

All the time the Olympics was there in my mind. Even when I was injured I used to think about the Olympics (and winning a medal there). Day and night, while eating and before going to sleep (winning) a medal in the Olympics was in my mind. My back injury was a problem, but I got over it.

What has been the contribution of your family members and friends in your success?

My family and friends backed me a lot. My brother and friends shared my responsibilities and allowed me to focus on wrestling with a free mind. Now they tell me to focus on Rio (Olympics). My family, friends and guruji want me to participate in the 2016 Olympics. They tell me, ‘You do not have to bother about anything. We will take up your responsibilities’.

How did the Mittal Champions Trust help you in your journey?

Hero returns… wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt is welcomed home by his mother Sushila Devi at his residence at Bhainswal near Sonepat (Haryana).

They helped me when I needed it the most. The knee injury after the Beijing Olympics was the worst. My career would have been over without their help. I had assured them of an Olympic medal (in return).

In the Olympics, how did you manage to fight despite badly injuring your right eye?

I had problems (in seeing) due to the injury. But I was determined to win a medal. I was not worried about the injury. I am used to injuries. The medal worked as a healing agent to all my injuries.

When were you sure of winning a medal?

When I had the 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.

How much do you owe to your training partners?

My training partners, Krishan, Rajneesh and Bajrang, are always with me. They were there during the training stints in America and Belarus (in the run-up to the Olympics). During practice sessions, they tell me how to go about a move. They made a big contribution in fine-tuning my techniques and defence. I am like a mask. There are a lot of people behind my success.

You must have experienced a never-before welcome when you reached your village…

Yes. There was such a big crowd that it was difficult to move ahead. The whole night there were celebrations. People kept on coming until 3 a.m. the next day. My village is now known to everybody because of my achievement. I am happy that my fellow villagers are proud of my feat.

What is your next goal?

I will take it step by step. I have won medals everywhere except the World Championship. I want to win that and make my well-wishers happy.

How do you look forward to the next four years?

I will focus on my fitness. If I do well in 2014 (Asian Games), then it will be easier for me (to look at the Olympics) as the qualification (for the Rio Games) will start in 2015.

(This article first appeared in Sportstar's special edition issue dated September 8, 2012)