Sushil Wins Silver Madal for India
Wrestler Sushil Kumar today created history by becoming the first Indian to win back-to-back Olympic medals but the coveted gold medal eluded him as he lost the men’s freestyle 66kg category final to his Japanese opponent rather tamely at the ExCel Arena here today.
The 29-year-old Sushil found the Japanese Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, a tough opponent as he carved out a 3-1 victory to shatter the his hopes of winning a gold medal.
With the addition of Sushil’s silver medal, India completed their engagements in the 30th edition of the Olympics with a record haul of six medals — two silver and four bronze — but the gold medal could not be won by any one.
In Beijing, India had won one gold and two bronze medals.
Sushil, who was cheered by the flag-waving Indian spectators, was down with dehydration when he took the mat for the final and that had a bearing on his performance.
“Í had a stomach problem just after the semi-final, because of the dehydration. I lost weight and was feeling a little weak. But we have got a silver medal and we will try for gold medal in the next Olympics,” Sushil said after the medal ceremony.
“I had said about 15 days ago that we will do well. It was a question of what will be the colour of medals. I am happy that Yogeshwar won a bronze and our performance will keep improving,” he said.
In the final, Sushil found the going tough against the japanese who just did not allow the Indian to grip him at all.
Sushil tried desperately to get a breakthroug but without much luck as the Japanese wrestled intelligently. The Japanse won the first round 1-0 and took the second round 3-1 during which he picked up Sushil on his shoulder and brought him down, effectively ending the Indian’s chance.
“It was bronze in Beijing, and now it’s a silver. So were are gradually going up and may be in the next Olympics, I will be able to win the gold medal,” Sushil said.
Sushil said he dedicated the silver medal to his coach Satpal, parents, friends and the entire support staff.
“When you see us fight, you see us alone. But there are a lot of people who work behind the scenes to keep us fit. They also work equally hard. Besides, it is the blessings of my countrymen which has brought me to this level,” he said.
On how he planned to celebrate the victory, he said,”First I will take some rest. I have been training hard for the last five or six months. So a little rest is needed,” he said.
Team Manager Raj Singh said Sushil was down with dehydration after his semi-final bout and had also hurt his shoulder.
“He was in a bad shape. He vomitted thrice and went to the toilet six times before his bout. He was very weak and was not in a position to give his rival a fight,” he said.
Earlier, Sushil demolished Akhzurek Tanatrov of Kazakistan 9-6 in an engrossing semi-final contest to achieve the memorable feat and provide the late spark to India’s Olympic campaign.
Sushil, a bronze medallist in the Beijing Games and who was the flag bearer of the Indian contingent here, kept his reputation intact with a stunning dislay of skill, stamina and power as he wriggled out of some difficult positions to fashion three victories in a row.
Backed by vociferous Indian spectators, Sushil wrapped up the first round 3-1 in the high-voltage semi-final clash against Tanatrov but lost the second manche by an identical score.
In the crucial third round, the Indian showed his class and strength as he put up a commanding show to win 6-3 and assure himself of a silver medal and make sure that the Indian contingent finished the Games on a high note.
In the dying stages of the contest, Sushil virtually lifted his Kazakh opponent and pinned him to the mat, scoring heavily in the process.
In the pre-quarter final, Sushil disposed of defending champion Ramazan Sahin of Turkey and then prevailed over Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Naruzov 6-3.
The Indian appeared a little rusty in the first round of his bout against Sahin in the pre-quarter finals but found his mojo to tilt the scale in his favour from the second round onwards.
Sushil lost the first manche 0-2 and then took advantage of the click to scape past in the second round with a 1-0 scoreline. He played it safe in the third round and did not take too many risks but managed to get one point to get the better of the Beijing Olympic gold medallist.
In the quarter-final, Sushil showed his aggressive instincts a litte more as he tried to rattle the Uzbek opponent by trying out different grips.
The Indian wrestler bagged the first round quite comfortably with a 3-1 margin but conceded two points late in the second round to lose that round 1-2.
With the round score tied at 1-1, Sushil went for an all out attack and relied on his experience to secure two points and romp into the semi-finals much to the delight of the hordes of flag-waving Indian spectators who cheered him lustily.
Sushil had defeated Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan in the repechage round to win the bronze medal in the Beijing Games four years ago.