Asian Games: Yogeshwar Dutt ends India's 28-year gold drought in wrestling

Yogeshwar Dutt ended a 28-year gold drought for India in wrestling after defeating Tajikistan's Zalimkhan Yusupov in a rip-roaring 65kg title contest to provide the country with its fourth yellow metal in the 17th Asian Games here on Sunday.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 29, 2014, 00:38 AM IST
Asian Games: Yogeshwar Dutt ends India's 28-year gold drought in wrestling

Incheon: Yogeshwar Dutt ended a 28-year gold drought for India in wrestling after defeating Tajikistan's Zalimkhan Yusupov in a rip-roaring 65kg title contest to provide the country with its fourth yellow metal in the 17th Asian Games here on Sunday.

Egged on by a huge contingent of Indian supporters, Yogeshwar managed to pip his tough opponent, who had scaled down his weight by five kgs within 10 days after having fought and secured fifth spot in the 70kg at the World Championships held before the Games in Tashkent, 3-0 in the gold medal contest.

This is India's first Asian Games wrestling gold after 1986 when Kartar Singh won it in this country, at Seoul which is just over 25kms away from this city.

However, two other Indian wrestlers Satywart Kadian and Babita Kumari both missed out on third-place finishes as they went down in men's 97kg freestyle and women's 55kg freestyle.

Yogeshwar, who fought so bravely in the London Games to bag a bronze medal to go with his friend Sushil Kumar's silver, was very pleased that he had fetched the country its first gold in nearly three decades.

"I'm very happy as India have won a gold medal in Asian Games after 28 years and Korea has been a lucky country for me. It was in Korea that I won the gold for the first time in Asian Championships in 2008 and again in 2012," said the grappler who will be 32 on November 2, after a gruelling day during which he fought and won three bruising bouts despite carrying a small calf injury.

"All the three bouts were tough. I had a small problem with my calf muscle and because of that my mobility was affected," the wrestler from Delhi said.

He complimented his Tajikh rival, who was fifth in the world championships in the higher (70kg) weight class, for putting up a superb defense.

"In the final, my rival was top class. Though I tried to go for his legs but his defense was really good. But then my defense was also good so that I could evade his attacks."

Yogeshwar did not take part in the world championships to focus on the Asian Games and he said the move has paid rich dividends.

"It benefited that I didn't go for the World Championship otherwise it would have been difficult to recover as there was only a gap of 10 days."

He dedicated the medal to his father who passed away six month ago.

"This is a big medal for me and I dedicate this medal to my father and all my countrymen. My father passed away six months back and I could win only a bronze (in 2010), so this gold is for him."

Yogeshwar was the star performer of the day as he bettered his 2006 edition bronze in style with a couple of splendid bouts.

The Indian, who was trailing all through in his semifinal bout before coming good in the last few seconds to enter the final, picked up the yellow metal in style.

He though had to toil hard in a gruelling final with his rival Yusupov, who had taken the 11th spot at London two years ago, defending extremely well. Yogeshwar tried to pin his opponent down time and again but failed in his efforts.

Yogeshwar won his first point at the end of the opening period.

In the second period, he managed to earn two more points to get a 3-0 verdict in his favour.

Earlier, Yogeshwar, having beaten Jinhyok Kang of North Korea 3-1, a decision by points, in his quarterfinal bout, clashed with Yeerlanbieke Katai in the last four stage.

A dominant Chinese was leading throughout the game before the Indian turned the bout in last few seconds.

Yogeshwar was trailing 7-9 before he managed to pin down his opponent in the dying minutes of the match to win 5-0 in a 'victory by fall' verdict.