Games & medals
Rio de Janeiro 2016
|#21||Wrestling||Welterweight, Freestyle (≤65 kilograms)|
|#=3||Wrestling||Lightweight, Freestyle (≤60 kilograms)|
|#8||Wrestling||Lightweight, Freestyle (≤60 kilograms)|
|#18||Wrestling||Featherweight, Freestyle (≤55 kilograms)|
Yogeshwar DUTT biography
Winning bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games in London made Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt a household name in the country. But for the freestyle wrestler, the crowning moment of his career bears a much bigger personal significance.
It marked the realisation of a dream - one sowed by his father Ram Meher Dutt in the traditional mud Yakharas of Haryana and finally bore fruit at the state-of-the-art Olympics ring in London.
Born in Bhainswal Kalan in Sonipat, Haryana, Yogeshwar Dutt hails from a family of teachers but was inspired to get into the sport by a renowned wrestler, Balraj Pehlwan, from his native village.
Dutt’s parents were initially unsure about him pursuing wrestling as a career, but it was just a matter of time before he won them over, with his father becoming one of his biggest support systems during the formative years.
By the time he was 14, Yogeshwar Dutt moved away from home to train at the famous Chhatrasal Stadium in New Delhi and paved his way to the senior stage.
Seven years later, at the Athens Olympics in 2004, a 21-year-old Yogeshwar Dutt found himself drawn in a pool against Japanese grappler Chikara Tanabe - the eventual bronze medallist that year - and Azerbaijan’s Namig Abdullayev, a gold medallist at the 2000 Sydney Games and a silver medallist in the 1996 Atlanta Games. Yogeshwar Dutt’s inexperience saw him being bested in both matches.
He suffered a bigger blow two years later with the sudden demise of his father just nine days before he was set to participate in the 2006 Asian Games at Doha. Yogeshwar Dutt, nevertheless, battled on and even soldiered through a knee injury as the emotional trauma to win a bronze medal.
Even though he claimed gold at the 2014 Asian Games eight years later, the circumstances under which he triumphed in Doha made it one of the most inspirational performances of his career.
Leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Yogeshwar Dutt had clinched gold in the 2008 Asian Championships and went into the Games eyeing a podium finish in the 60kg freestyle category.
At the main event, the Indian wrestler got a bye in the first round and reached the quarter-finals after beating Kazakhstani wrestler Bauyrzhan Orazgaliyev. Yogeshwar Dutt’s medal dreams, however, ended there after a loss to Japan’s Kenichi Yumoto.
The Indian grappler sustained an injury during the Games that aggravated later. He was also told his wrestling career was all but over.
But the gritty wrestler recovered and won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi before another injury sidelined him.
However, with the burning desire for an Olympic medal driving him forward, Yogeshwar Dutt prepared for a medal charge at the 2012 London Olympics with an Asian Championships gold at Gumi, South Korea, earlier that year.
At the Games, Yogeshwar Dutt’s first bout was against 2007 World Championships silver medallist Anatolie Guidea. The Indian overcame his Bulgarian opponent comfortably to set up a second-round contest against four-time World Champion Besik Kudukhov.
Yogeshwar Dutt went down to the Russian - the eventual silver medallist -- and in the process hurt his right eye, the area swelling considerably. But with Besik Kudukhov reaching the final, he got a shot at bronze through repechage and made sure he grasped it with both hands.
Resigned to the swollen eye, Dutt nevertheless overcame Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gómez and Iran’s Masoud Esmaeilpour in the first and second repechage rounds respectively to set up a bronze medal bout against North Korea’s Ri Jong-Myong.
In the defining bout, the Indian grappler lost the first round but came roaring back. after he executed the fitele -- where he grabbed the opponent by his legs and rolled him around the mat -- at the end of the final round to stun the Korean and take the match 3-1.
With it, he stepped on the London Olympics podium and became only the third Indian men’s wrestler after KD Jadhav and his compatriot Sushil Kumar to win an Olympic medal.
“Wrestling is an integral part of my life. All that I have achieved is because of wrestling. My Olympics bronze medal will remain the best moment of my life,” he said.
The Olympic medallist later went on to win the 65kg freestyle gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but his venture at the 2016 Rio Olympics didn’t quite go as planned as he went down to Mongolian Ganzorigiina Mandakhnaran in the qualification round.
The veteran wrestler has since retired from the sport to focus on mentoring Bajrang Punia - a young wrestler he has taken under his wing and has emerged as one of India’s brightest medal prospects for the upcoming Tokyo Games.