London, Aug 11 (IANS) Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt clinched the bronze medal in the men’s 60kg category to give the country its fifth Olympic medal from the London Games here Saturday.
A determined Yogeshwar, who had lost in the quarterfinals in Beijing, churned out one of his best performances against North Korean Jong Myong Ri to win 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 Kumar to win an Olympic medal. Jadhav and Kumar had won bronze medals in 1952 Helsinki and 2008 Beijing Games.
Yogeshwar’s mentor Satpal, who is also Sushil’s father-in-law, was all praises for his ward.
“What a bout he fought, it is one of the best wrestling bouts I have see. It is no joke fighting three bouts in less than an hour,” he said.
For Yogeshwar, London was “now of never”. “I know I have to attack. If I don’t win a medal. Abhi nahin to kabhi nahin (it is now or never),” Yogeshwar had said.
In the bronze medal match, Yogeshwar put up a spirited performance despite losing the first period 1-0. Yogeshwar, struggling to barely open his right eye, came back strongly in the second period winning it 1-0.
Realising that bronze medal 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 the North Arena 2. He had just snatched a medal from the jaws of defeat.
Yogeshwar’s medal chances looked all over after he has lost his pre-quarterfinal bout to World Champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia. The Indian survived just two periods before losing 3-0 to the Kudukhov, who was also a bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Games.
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. The Indian won the first period 1-0. Yogeshwar earned an advantage in the second period and won it 1-0 as well.
In Repechage 2, Yogeshwar got the better of Iranian Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari 3-1 in to set up a clash with North Korean in the bronze medal play-off match.
A determined Yogeshwar bounced back in style against the Iranian despite losing the first period 3-0. Yogeshwar won the second period 3-2 and was unstoppable in the third period winning it 4-0.
Yogeshwar qualified for the pre-quarterfinal, beating Bulgarian Anatolie Ilarionovitch Guidea in the first round. The Indian made a brilliant comeback after losing the first period to win the bout 3-1. Guidea won the first period 1-0 but Yogeshwar did well in the second period, bagging it 2-0. Yogeshwar completely dominated the third and the final period to win it 5-2.