On the wrestling mat, he’s a hardened professional who prides himself on taking on the toughest men in the world without blinking an eye.
But yesterday, as news broke that wrestling had made a comeback to the 2020 Olympics, just eight months after it was dropped from the core sports list, London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt found it hard to keep his emotions in check.
“There were tears in my eyes when I heard the news. I was sitting in front of the television nervously awaiting the result. This is a very positive development for the sport of wrestling,” Dutt told MiD DAY yesterday.
“The news will clearly give a fresh impetus to the sport of wrestling. India’s younger crop of wrestlers who were bogged down with uncertainty can finally focus on something.
Now they can start wrestling with the Olympics to aim at,” he added. Wrestling’s inclusion is also expected to have positive implications in the coming days, according to Dutt.
“This news will also help Indian wrestlers who will be participating at the World Championships at Budapest later this month. They can now have a positive mindset when they compete,” Dutt said.
In Buenos Aires, wrestling, which is one of the rare sports to have transcended the ancient and modern Olympics, won in the first round of voting with 49 of the 95 votes cast.
The joint bid of baseball/softball was second with 24 votes and squash received 22. The result sees wrestling assured of appearing at both the 2020 — which is to be hosted by Tokyo — and the 2024 Summer Olympics.
It marks a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for wrestling which was dropped from the Olympic programme in February this year by the 15-person IOC Executive Board but which provoked an unprecedented backlash.
The same board then gave it a second chance when they put it on the three-sport shortlist — after presentations by eight sports at the end of May — to be considered by the entire IOC membership in Buenos Aires.