Yogeshwar finally realises his dream

New Delhi: The cliche that sport is a great leveller has been once again proved by Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who fought back from the brink to clinch a bronze medal at the London Olympics, after narrowly missing out in Beijing four years ago.

The Indian was down if not out after losing to Besik Kudukhov in the pre-quarterfinals. But the Russian`s charge to final, in a way, proved to be a boon for Yogeshwar as it paved the way for his entry into the repechage round.

There was no looking back for the 29-year-old from Sonepat in north Indian state Haryana from thereon as he pulled off three successive wins, required to lay his hands on the bronze medal, and realise his long-cherished dream.

By his own admission, Yogeshwar would not have competed in London had he triumphed in Beijing four summers ago, when his good friend Sushil Kumar basked in glory after attaining a similar feat.

Being the modest man that he is, Yogeshwar was as happy as Sushil for the latter`s triumph but deep inside, he always harboured a dream of tasting success in the world`s biggest sporting extravaganza.

This was the sole reason that kept him going. "If I would have won a medal in the Beijing Games, I would probably have called it a day given the career threatening injury to my leg after the Beijing Olympics," Yogeshwar had said.

In Beijing four years ago, Yogeshwar got a bye in the first round and defeated Kazakhstan`s Baurzhan Orazgaliyev in the pre-quarterfinals before losing to Kenichi Yumoto of Japan in the dying moments.

A serious knee injury thereafter put his career in doubt, but Yogeshwar made a remarkable comeback in the Commonwealth Games to win a gold.

 A fighter to the core, Yogeshwar always kept himself focused on the medal at the big stage even in adversity.

"My group was very tough and I had to fight with the world champion. I wanted to win and I had practised a lot for it. I am happy that I could achieve my dream of winning a medal," Yogeshwar said moments after clinching the bronze.

"I didn`t want to lose this occasion. I was very down after I lost in the morning, but when I got the chance to compete in the repechage the whole country wanted a medal from me," said Yogeshwar, who first hit the headlines in 2003 after winning the Commonwealth Championships.

Having lost to Kudukhov, Yogeshwar came back strongly in the repechage round to finish on the podium, much similar to Sushil Kumar who fetched a bronze after beating Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan in the repechage.

Unlike Sushil, Yogeshwar started off the day on a winning note and probably that was the only difference between the two medal winners.

While Sushil lost his pre-quarter bout to Andriy Stadnik of Ukraine after getting a bye in the first round, Yogeshwar defeated Bulgaria`s Anatolie Ilarionovitch Guidea in the first round before succumbing to Kudukhov.

Yogeshwar though did remarkably well in the repechage rounds bringing in his experience of competing at the big stage twice before the London event to roll over his opponents in quick secession.

The sturdy wrestler, who won the Asian Championship earlier this year, first got better of Franklin Gomez Matos, a Pan American Champion from Puerto Rico, before accounting for Iran`s Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari.

Yogeshwar then came from behind to cut short the flight of North Korea`s Jong Myong Ri to win the bronze.

Sushil had earlier insisted that Yogeshwar deserved a medal at the Beijing Games more than he did and his dear friend has lived upto his word.