London: India will be hoping for a second wrestling medal at the London Olympics with Beijing bronze winner Sushil Kumar in action on the concluding day of the sporting extravaganza here today. Yogeshwar Dutt fought his way to a bronze on Saturday.
Sushil starts his London campaign against Turkey’s Ramazan Sahin in the 66kg category.
Yogeshwar’s performance in the 60kg class has helped to release the pressure on Sushil and the 2010 World Champion can go all out to do better than what he achieved in Beijing four years ago.
Yogeshwar clinched the bronze after winning the repechage round, giving India its fifth medal from the London Games.
Yogeshwar’s medal lifted the gloom after South Africa gave the finishing touches to India’s disastrous campaign in the Olympic men’s hockey competition with a 3-2 win in the classification match for the 11th-12th positions here Saturday.
In athletics, Basanta Bahadur Rana created a national record but that could only ensure him a 36th place in the men’s 50km walk. Rana took three hours, 56 minutes and 48 seconds to complete the race.
As Yogeshwar walked into the North Arena 2, expectations were high from him. For him, London was “now or never”.
A determined Yogeshwar, who had lost in the quarterfinals in Beijing, churned out one of his best performance against North Korean Jong Myong Ri winning the bronze medal play-off match 3-1 at the ExCel Arena, which was packed with Indian supporters.
Yogeshwar, who was in his third Olympics, also became the third Indian wrestler after Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav and Sushil to win an Olympic medal. Jadhav had won bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Games.
In the bronze medal fight, Yogeshwar put up a spirited performance despite losing the first period 1-0. Struggling to barely open his right eye, he came back strongly in the second period winning it 1-0.
Realising that a bronze was almost in his grasp, there was no stopping Yogeshwar in the third and the final period that he won 6-0.
The 30-year-old Yogeshwar jumped in joy and did a cartwheel as celebrations broke out in North Arena 2. He had just snatched a medal from the jaws of defeat.
Yogeshwar’s medal chances had looked bleak after he lost his pre-quarterfinal bout to World Champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia. The Indian survived just two periods before losing 0-3 to Kudukhov, who was also a bronze medallist in Beijing.
But it was the Russian, who revived Yogeshwar’s medal hopes. Kudukhov won his quarter-final and semi-final matches to qualify for the final that also made the Indian eligible for the repechage.
In the first repechage, Yogeshwar won 3-0 against Franklin Gomez Matos of Puerto Rico, a silver medallist in the World Championship.
In Repechage 2, Yogeshwar got the better of Iranian Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari 3-1 to set up a clash with the North Korean in the bronze play-off match.