India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.

Wrestler Sushil Kumar’s Olympic bronze medal (66 kg category) at the 2008 Beijing Games

Wrestler Sushil Kumar’s bronze medal in the 66 kg category after beating Kazakhstan’s Leonid Spiridonov was not only special for him, but also for the country as it was India’s second wrestling medal at the Olympics and the first one since K. D. Jadhav’s feat in Helsinki in 1952.

Pushed up to the 66 kg category, Sushil’s gold medal hopes were shattered after his loss to eventual silver-medallist, Ukraine's Andriy Stadnik.

READ: Sushil Kumar's insatiable hunger for perfection

However, Kumar was handed a lifeline as he reached the repechage rounds. On the way to his bronze, he beat America’s Doug Schwab 4-1, 0-1, 3-2 and Belarusia’s Albert Batyrov 1-0,0-4,7-0. 

“Of the three bouts in repechage, the third one against Leonid Spiridonov (of Kazakhstan) was the toughest. I had beaten him once in the past, so I was confident. At one stage he appeared to hold the advantage and was almost winning. Had he managed to bring me down after getting a firm grip on my leg, it would have clearly fetched him a medal. But during the final moments, I could score one technical point. It was almost like snatching away his medal,” said the wrestler.

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Beijing Olympics bronze medal winners, Sushil Kumar (left) in the 66 kg freestyle wrestling and Vijender Singh, in the middleweight boxing, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on August 26, 2008.

 

“It was unbelievable. I have seen the national flag go up at various international competitions, but this time it was very, very special. I was so happy... I knew I had achieved something that would make my countrymen very proud. But I did not know the magnitude of it,” added Kumar after the win. 

Kumar is currently in Tihar Jail after being charged with the murder of 27-year-old wrestler, Sagar Dhankar last year.  

(Quotes taken from an  article published in Sportstar on July 9, 2021 )