New Delhi: Star grappler Yogeshwar Dutt on Tuesday heaved a sigh of relief after clinching a spot for the World Championships by beating Amit Kumar Dhankhar, who had gone to court last year against the Olympic medallist alleging favouritism.
Dhankhar had sought court's direction on the method of picking wrestlers for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He had asked the court to issue directions for holding trials in the 65kg freestyle category fairly and to recommend the name of the best wrestler in that division to represent India in the Games.
Yogeshwar today defeated Dhankhar 6-3 in the final of 65kg selection trails, to make it to the September 7-12 World Championships in Las Vegas, which will also be the first qualification tournament for next year's Rio Olympics.
"Yes, there was slight pressure on me to beat him. Although I was pretty confident of defeating him but in case, I was unlucky today, people would have got a chance to point fingers at me," Yogeshwar told reporters.
"There would also have been criticism against the WFI, who had chosen the team last time for the Commonwealth and Asian Games. People would have said that the Federation's chosen team was not right. So today I proved that the team picked last year was the most deserving," he said.
At the last edition of the Olympics in London, Yogeshwar won a bronze in 60kg category before he was forced to climb up to 65kg after the FILA, the governing body for international wrestling, re-jigged Olympic weight categories.
Amit, on the other hand, had always fought in this category. Yogeshwar, who had to fight hard before prevailing over his opponent in his final bout at the selection trials today, said at no point he found the going tough.
"If you see the scoring, I had beaten him 6-3, so I feel I was better. I would not say it was a tough bout, but it was exciting and entertaining, and everyone enjoyed it," said Yogeshwar.
The 32-year-old grappler from Haryana admitted that the youngsters are giving a good fight to the seniors like him. "Our juniors are very good. The likes of Bajrang, Amit, Praveen Rana are doing very well. We have high hopes from them in the future," Yogeshwar said.
Confident of winning the gold and booking an Olympic berth at Las Vegas, Yogeshwar said: "My preparation for the World Championships is very good. I have been training daily for 5-6 hours. I really want to win the gold medal in the World Championships. I have all the major medals, except for the World Championships, so I would like to win a medal, preferably a gold for the country.
"If I manage to win the medal, India would automatically qualify for the Rio Olympics in my category." He said the pressure would be on him to spearhead the Indian attack in the absence of two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar.
"The pressure is always there on me and Sushil, and since Sushil is not there this time, the entire pressure would be on me. But even junior wrestlers like Amit Kumar (57kg), Narsingh Yadav (74kg) are there and we will do well. I am hoping that we would qualify for the Olympic Games in at least 2-3 categories in the World Championships itself," concluded Yogeshwar.