London: Wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt gave India lot to cheer about by winning the bronze
medal on a day when the hockey team, eight-time Olympic champions,
ended their worst-ever Games with a wooden spoon in 12th position
Yogeshwar clinched the bronze medal in the men's 60kg category at
the ExCel Arena to give the country its fifth Olympic medal from
the London Games here Saturday.
Yogeshwar's medal lifted the gloom after South Africa gave the
finishing touches to India's disastrous campaign in the Olympic
men's hockey competition with a 3-2 win in the classification
match for 11-12 positions here Saturday.
In athletics, Basanta Bahadur Rana created a national record but
that could only ensure him a 36th place in the men's 50km walk at
the London Olympics here Saturday. Rana took three hours, 56
minutes and 48 seconds to complete the race.
As Yogeshwar walked into the North Arena 2, expectations were high
from him. For him, London was "now of never".
A determined Yogeshwar, who had lost in the quarterfinals in
Beijing, churned out one of his best performance against North
Korean Jong Myong Ri winning the bronze medal play-off match 3-1
at the ExCel Arena, which was packed with Indian supporters.
Yogeshwar, who was in his third Olympics, also became the third
Indian wrestler after Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav and Sushil Kumar
to win an Olympic medal. Jadhav and Kumar had won bronze medals in
1952 Helsinki and 2008 Beijing Games.
In the bronze medal match, Yogeshwar put up a spirited performance
despite losing the first period 1-0. Struggling to barely open his
right eye, he came back strongly in the second period winning it
Realising that bronze medal was almost in his grasp, there was no
stopping Yogeshwar in the third and the final period that he won
The 30-year-old Yogeshwar jumped in joy and did a cartwheel as
celebrations broke out in the North Arena 2. He had just snatched
a medal from the jaws of defeat.
Yogeshwar's medal chances looked all over after he lost his
pre-quarterfinal bout to World Champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia.
The Indian survived just two periods before losing 3-0 to the
Kudukhov, who was also a bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing
But it was the Russian, who revived Yogeshwar's medal hopes.
Kudukhov won his quarter-final and semi-final matches to qualify
for the final that also made the Indian eligible for the repechage.
In the first repechage, Yogeshwar won 3-0 against Franklin Gomez
Matos of Puerto Rico, a silver medallist in the World
Championship. The Indian won the first period 1-0. He then earned
an advantage in the second period and won it 1-0 as well.
In Repechage 2, Yogeshwar got the better of Iranian Masoud
Esmaeilpoorjouybari 3-1 in to set up a clash with the North Korean
in the bronze medal play-off match.
A determined Yogeshwar bounced back in style against the Iranian
despite losing the first period 3-0. Yogeshwar won the second
period 3-2 and was unstoppable in the third period winning it 4-0.
Yogeshwar qualified for the pre-quarterfinal, beating Bulgarian
Anatolie Ilarionovitch Guidea in the first round.
In hockey classification matches, while Indians showed some
purpose against the South Africans, their overall performance in
the match was no improvement on their showing in the previous
A weak defence yet again allowed the South Africans to score
through Andrew Cronje (8th), Timothy Drummond (33rd) and Lloyd
Norris-Jones (64th) while Sandeep Singh converted a penalty corner
in the 14th and Dharmavir Singh (66th) reduced the margin for
The game began rather ominously for India whose defender Manpreet
Singh was stretchered out after being hit on the side of the head
when he ran into the swinging stick of Lloyd Norris-Jones in the
very fourth minute.
A key member of the midfield, Manpreet, however, returned to the
field for the second half after medication and a huge bandage
around his head.
South Africa dominated the early minutes and struck in the eighth
when Julian Hykes latched on to a long ball into the circle and
essayed a push that a diving goalkeeper Sreejesh stopped, but the
ball slipped from underneath and a lurking Cronje pushed home.
The lead lasted a mere six minutes as India forced their first
penalty corner that Sandeep Singh converted with a low and firm
drag-flick past goalkeeper Erasmus Pieterse.
Thereafter, the ball swung from end to end, but with both teams
being error prone, the exchanges never looked to result in any
goal and so it proved to be.