Road to Rio: Rejuvenated Yogeshwar Dutt aims for Olympic gold despite injury setbacks
Yogeshwar Dutt's will and desire to compete and succeed at the top level is still driving him and hopefully, that is enough to secure India a medal at Rio.
Name: Yogeshwar Dutt
Category: Men's Wrestling (65kg)
Qualification: Gold medal at Asiana Olympic qualifying meet, Astana
Strengths: Looking fitter than ever, Yogeshwar Dutt has undergone a lot of training, changed his diet and taken steps to maintain his power and stamina ahead of the Rio Olympics. With a rejuvenated fitness regime, Dutt goes into the Games with a lot of confidence and belief.
Past Olympic performance: Bronze medal in Freestyle Wrestling (60kgs) at 2012 London Olympics
Past record (best performances): Bronze medal in Freestyle wrestling (60 kgs) at 2006 Asian Games in Doha
- Gold medal in Freestyle wrestling (60kgs) at 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi
- Bronze medal in Freestyle wrestling (60kgs) at 2012 Olympic Games in London
- Gold medal in Freestyle wrestling (65kgs) at 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
- Gold medal in Freestyle wrestling (65kgs) at 2014 Asian Games in Incheon
Rio Prospects: Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt gained a quota for the 2016 Rio Games for India’s wrestling team when he won gold at the Asian Olympic qualifying event in Astana. He was the second Indian wrestler to do so after Narsingh Yadav. While his chances are bleak due to multiple injuries, the wrestler could pull of a surprise at his possible Olympic swansong.
Four years ago, Yogeshwar Dutt surprised Indians and the world with a bronze medal finish in the London Olympic Games in the 60kg Freestyle Wrestling category.
But recently his injuries that include torn ACL’s, MCL’s and meniscus problems have effectively kept him out of competition.
Four years can be a lot of time and a lot has changed for Dutt. He is no longer the shy boy who was meant to merely participate at the Olympics. With a voice on Twitter, Dutt is likely the most vocal Indian Olympian in the present social media sphere.
“Whatever I feel strongly about – the rights and wrongs – I will talk openly about it. If I am not able to do that then God should have made me mute," Dutt told the Indian Express about his tweets against Kanhaiya’s speech at the JNU.
Raised in a household of teachers, in Bhainswal Kalan, a tiny village in Sonepat, Dutt was exposed to literature and poetry from a very young age. His parents wanted him to follow in their footsteps professionally but Dutt aspired to be a pehelwan from a very young age. He would daydream about being like Balraj Pehelwan, and the akhara has given him purpose in life.
Dutt might have fame, wealth and a voice but it doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t have that coveted Olympic gold medal. And he will settle for nothing less than the top prize at the Brazillian capital in August.
"This is my fourth and last Olympics so I am toiling very hard to come back with a gold medal," he said at the sidelines of the launch of Olympians Association of India. I am training for five to six hours a day including gym session. I want to make Rio an unforgettable experience."
The Asian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist added, "I have had five operations so far, still I gave my best as far as preparations are concerned. Pressure is there on all of us as the expectations are high, but we have to cope with it and be able to do well under pressure."
Is there a realistic chance of ‘Yogi’ winning a gold medal?
It looks highly unlikely. It’s hard to believe that at the age of 34, injuries and multiple surgeries have not taken a toll on his body. But his will and desire to compete and succeed at the highest level is still driving the Olympian and hopefully could propel Dutt to secure a medal at Rio.
(With inputs from agencies)