London, Aug 11: India added one more medal at the London Olympics 2012 when wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt won a bronze in the freestyle 60kg category here on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Dutt defeated North Korea's Jong Myong Ri 3-1 in the play-off bout at the ExCel Arena. Dutt has finally succeeded to claim an Olympic medal after two failed Games.
The wrestler was happy to have fulfilled his late father's wish. Dutt's father passed away in 2006 and it was his dream to see his son win an Olympic medal.
"I am very happy today. I have fulfilled my father's wish. It is a dream come true. At the Beijing Olympics, the medal slipped out of my hands and for four years the memories have haunted me. This time around, I was confident of returning home with a medal...I've done it," Dutt said after winning bronze.
It was two days before he had to leave for Doha Asian Games in 2006 that Dutt lost his father.
"Just a couple of days before the Asian Games when my father died I thought the world had come to an end. It was the biggest loss of my life. But I went ahead and competed at the Asian Games. I had to do what my father would have loved to see me doing leaving behind the grief," Yogeshwar told "Hindustan Times" newspaper.
"I am into wrestling because of my father. He wanted me to win an Olympic medal one day and I was very close to it in Beijing. But somehow, I lost the quarterfinal in the dying seconds and it slipped out of my hand. The memories of missing that medal still haunt me. I want to make up for the loss and win a medal here. I have to fulfill my father's wish," Dutt had told the same newspaper on Friday, a day before his bout.
India Sports Minister Ajay Maken said Dutt, the "hardest worker" and "nicest guy", deserved the medal.
"Yogeshwar wins Bronze and India 5th Medal! the hardest worker... the nicest guy... no one deserves it more... True for Yogeshwar, he deserved it!," Maken (@ajaymaken) tweeted.
He wrote in another tweet, "5 Medals in 4 Sports; another 6 or 7 could have just made it; with Sushil Kumar yet to come;this is India's springboard & bestever Olympics!".
This is also India's third wrestling medal in Games history. After KD Jadhav (bronze, 1952 Helsinki) and Sushil Kumar (bronze, 2008 Beijing) it is now Dutt.
It was a superlative performance from Dutt considering that he won three bouts in less than an hour. At the end of the bronze medal match, he was exhausted.
After losing earlier, Dutt fought his way back into medal contention in the repechage rounds. Dutt, who hails from Haryana, had missed out on a podium finish in Beijing 2008. This time, it was joy for him as he has secured a medal with a lot of hard work.
Before the bronze medal match, Dutt had got the better of two wrestlers within 20 minutes. He beat World Championship runner-up Franklin Gomez Matos of Puerto Rico and Iran's Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari.
Dutt had battled through injuries to reach this stage in London. In 2009, Dutt had a career threatening knee injury. He had surgeries and was again back in action.
"The preparations began long ago, just after the Beijing Olympics. 2009 was terrible, I injured my knee but I kept my mind focused and cameback strongly to win a gold in the Commonwealth Games," he was quoted as saying in a PTI report in June.
"If I had won a medal in Beijing, probably I wouldn't have been a part of this Olympics. I had a career threatening injury, got operated twice, but the only thing that kept me motivated was a medal in the Olympics," he had said.
Dutt had won gold at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and also topped in Asian Wrestling Championship same year. In 2003, also in London, he had secured a yellow metal in Commonwealth Wrestling Championship.
Now, India's tally in London is five. One silver and four bronze medals. This is the biggest ever medal haul for India in Olympic history.
Shooters Gagan Narang (bronze) and Vijay Kumar (silver), shuttler Saina Nehwal (bronze), boxer Mary Kom (bronze) are the other four medalists.
With the curtains set to come down on the Olympics tomorrow, Sushil will be in action and India will hope for another medal from him.