Yogeshwar Dutt happy to have retired for the sake of Bajrang Punia

The Olympic medallist believes Bajrang could become India’s first wrestler to win an Olympic gold.

Yogeshwar Dutt also clinched gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in his career.   -  PTI

Keen on guiding 24-year-old Bajrang Punia to Olympic gold, Yogeshwar Dutt is happy with his decision to retire from wrestling. Dutt, the third Olympic medallist among Indian wrestlers after K. D. Jadhav and Sushil Kumar, believes his ward could become India’s first wrestler to win an Olympic gold.

“It’s important that Bajrang is prepared and supported for an Olympic medal. He is good but can do much better. I can’t compete in 2020, so it is better we help Bajrang. He will be a strong medal contender for gold in Tokyo,” Yogeshwar told PTI.

“I had a good career. I played four Olympics. In our second line of wrestlers, Bajrang is doing well and can be better. So it’s important to give him that chance and support,” he added.

‘Right decision’

Reflecting on his decision to retire, Yogeshwar said, “If it was not for Bajrang, I would not have quit the mat. I would have competed more and may be could have moved up a category. But I thought, ‘it is a right decision’. [Bajrang] is only 24. Since his junior days, he [has] shown spark. I want people of India to see Yogeshwar in Bajrang now. I had a long career and I don’t want that Bajrang gets affected.”

“[Bajrang] has always been a very hard-working kid and I want him to do better than me.”

Yogeshwar admitted he had mulled over participating in the World Championship, which was held in October, 2018. “I don’t have a World Championship medal and I had thought of competing at Budapest this year. But I thought, ‘Bajrang is in good form’, and respecting that, I did not come in the fray. And he won a silver. I had not played a tournament for long and was not in shape to give my best,” he said.

Better defence needed

Since Bajrang and Yogeshwar both specialise in the 65kg category, Yogeshwar thought there was a possibility of him moving up the weight category. “I could have tried 70kg but then there would not been many chances, I have never played in 70kg,” he said.

Talking about Bajrang’s game, he said, “His defence has got better but this lacking has been there since his childhood. It takes time. We are on it. Losing that final at World [Championship] was painful. First, he needs to ensure that the opponent does not get hold of his legs. And even if he holds, the defence should be such that you don’t end up losing points from that position.”

Yogeshwar focus is not only on Bajrang, however; he aims to produce champions from his academy in Gohana. “I want wrestlers from my academy to become world champions. I don’t have government support but JSW is supporting us. They are sponsoring our 15 kids,” he said.