Incheon (Korea): Yesterday's gold medal for Yogeshwar Dutt was long due. The win by a solitary point achieved via a leg hold in the first 30 seconds of the bout against Tajikistan's Zalimkahn Yusupov held good for the Indian grappler to hang in for the remainder of the first and second rounds to win the gold, which was India's first in freestyle wrestling since Kartar Singh's gold medal at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.
It's mine: India's Yogeshwar Dutt poses with his gold medal after winning the men's 65 kg freestyle wrestling gold in Incheon yesterday. Pic/PTI
It was a close bout, just as his semi-final had been. But Dutt, who has moved up from 60kg to 65kg for these Games, as weight categories have changed, was up to the challenge. He might have seemed out of breath, but he hung and gave no quarter and when the bout ended, he signaled to his colleagues in the stands to give him a tri-colour. Wrapped in the Indian flag, he did the lap of honour around the arena as his teammates went wild cheering him.
The gold medal was something Yogeshwar had dreamt for the last eight years. It was a medal he wanted to dedicate to his father, just as he had done after the Olympic bronze in 2012. In 2006 Dutt lost his father barely two days before boarding the flight to the Qatari capital. Yet, the gritty Sonepat wrestler, who was brought into the sport by his father, wanted to pay tribute to his father by going to Doha and win a gold medal.
As the eldest son, he performed the last rites and rushed to Doha. He did win a medal, but he was on the verge of tears because it was only a bronze and he wanted a gold for his father.
His father had also wanted his eldest son to win an Olympic medal. Dutt was crestfallen as he was beaten in the quarter-finals by Japan's Kenichi Yumoto in the 60kg category. A day later he sat in the stands watching his close friend, Sushil Kumar lose the first bout but then get a reprieve through repechage and work his way to a bronze medal.
That bronze catapulted Sushil in the public eye while Dutt, about six months older than Sushil was left needing to play 'catch-up' thereafter, even though his achievements are no less noteworthy, though Sushil also has a World Championships gold. But Sushil does not have an Asian Games gold.
The Olympic medal finally came Dutt's way in London with a bronze, which he dedicated to his father. This year in Glasgow, he won his second Commonwealth Games gold to go with the one he won in Delhi in 2010. And now eight years after his father passed away, comes the Asian Games gold. It was only natural for Dutt to dedicate the Asian Games gold to his father.
"It is a very important medal for me. I want to dedicate this medal to my father. I could not win a gold in 2006, the year he died, just two days before I left for Doha. In 2010, I was injured but in 2012 I fulfilled his dream of an Olympic medal. Now comes the Asian Games gold. I owe it to him," said an emotional Dutt. "My father would have loved to see me win these medals, so these are all for him."