“I’m not going to Rio with plans of winning anything less than gold,” a confident Yogeshwar Dutt announced prior to the 2016 Olympic Games. As he took the mat on the final day of the Games with expectations of adding to India’s demoralising tally of two medals, the country hoped that the veteran wrestler would be good to his word.
The lead up to Rio hasn’t been thoroughly enjoyable for Dutt who had to face several knee issues including as many as five surgeries in 2015. Moreover, he was compelled to alter his weight category to 65 kg freestyle from the 60 kg category in London owing to the recent changes imposed by the wrestling’s ruling body.
But if Dutt’s unbeaten run at the Pro Wrestling League was anything to go by, the Haryana grappler was still a force to reckon with. His gold medal at the Asian Olympic qualifying meet in Astana, Kazakhstan in March 2016 testifies to that.
On Sunday, clad in red, Dutt locked horns with Mongolia’s Mandakhnaran Ganzorig in the Qualification round. Things, however, started off on a poor note for the Indian as he was handed a couple of passivity warnings by the referee before losing one point to Ganzorig by half-time.
The second period witnessed a far more attacking Dutt who tried continuously to get around his opponent but failed to manage a scoring takedown each time. Armed with pace and better tactics, the Mongolian focused on taking down Dutt with a swift counterattack, thereby registering two more points and extending his lead to 3-0.
#YogeshwarDutt ur still r hero🇮🇳 some time u win some time u learn— Vijender Singh (@boxervijender) August 21, 2016
Despite his several attempts, Dutt fell short of turning the table in the remaining minutes, with the scoreline ultimately proving to be decisive in knocking him out of the Olympics. The two-time World Championships bronze winner was never going to be an easy draw for Dutt, as he happened to find out in the most unceremonious fashion possible.
At 34, Dutt has already featured in four Olympics and is unlikely in participate in another. The only way he could sign off his Olympics career with a win was by winning the bronze via the Repechage Rounds.
All eyes, therefore, were settled on Ganzorig who had to reach the finals in order to create a chance for the Indian.
As it ultimately turned out, Ganzorig was defeated in the quarter finals by the Russian Soslan Ramonov, thereby spelling an end to Dutt’s Olympics campaign and consequently, medal hopes for India on the final day of the Rio Games.
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Nino Schurter finally struck gold in his third attempt at the Olympics.
The Swiss had finished third in Beijing and second in London, before clinching the men’s mountain bike competition in Rio.
The world champion crossed the finish line ahead of 2012 champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic with Spanish rider Carlos Coloma taking bronze.
Schurter, Kulhavy and Coloma seized control by the end of the first lap with Schurter pulling clear in the sixth and final lap to seal a complete set of Olympic medals.
“I have been working four years for this gold,” said 30-year-old Schurter.
“If I look back, I needed silver in London to get back and be strong here. For me, it is the perfect story. I have bronze in Beijing, silver in London, and now gold in Rio. It is the perfect story.”
The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are now over and the time for reflection is here. But amid the sensational performances of the last two weeks one man once more stands out—Usain Bolt.
The Jamaican sprinter completed his ‘triple-triple’ of sprint golds, winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m for the third consecutive Olympics following identical triumphs at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Today’s #360debate asks: Is Usain Bolt the greatest Olympic athlete of all time?
The Olympics is as big as it gets. It’s a platform where we witness the feats of the best athletes in the world.
Winning a medal is a great achievement. To win multiple gold medals and utterly dominate three Olympic Games is superhuman.
Yes, there are athletes with more Olympic gold medals in their bag than Usain Bolt. But what the Jamaican has done over eight years goes beyond the realm of sport.
Sprint is one of the most intense disciplines in sport, an uninhibited celebration of one of the three mottos of Olympics. Bolt has reached its pinnacle and has been the undisputed champion in three major events across three Olympics.
Michael Phelps is a legend in his own right but he has come second or third best at the Games on various occasions. Bolt has taken the event and the Games by the scruff of the neck and made it all about him.
When Bolt runs, everything else stops. Many sportsmen and women can be called world-famous but Bolt is truly loved and revered across the globe, even in countries that do not have an inclination towards track and field.
Let’s not forget, Bolt was coming back after a hamstring injury and surgery. Last year was all about recovery and slowly getting back on track. To return and decimate the field is extraordinary.
What many don’t know is that Bolt was never expected to be a top quality sprinter, with his physique and body mechanics seen as a major hindrance. But the Jamaican has turned that notion on its head, shattering the view that tall athletes can’t be great sprinters. He has taken the world of athletics in a new direction.
If that is not enough, Bolt does it all with a smile on his face. He knows he is an entertainer and puts on a show every time he competes. There is pressure on him to not only win, but win in style. He has taken that as his responsibility.
So when we talk about the greatest Olympic athlete, sure there are many multiple gold medal winners over the years. But there can only be one Usain Bolt.
Comparing athletes across different sports is typically an exercise in futility, but in this case, it’s fair to raise the question.
As far as the most influential Olympic athletes of all-time, Usain Bolt is certainly at the top of the list, if not number one. The Jamaican has saved his sport from a drug-tainted reputation and singlehandedly drummed up interest in the Games. He’s charismatic, entertaining and does the one thing I wish more athletes would do (or display): has fun.
Bolt is simply cool, but the way we think of him is heavily affected by his discipline. He holds the coveted title of ‘fastest man alive’, which is bettered by only a few designations. It’s basically akin to ‘greatest rapper alive’ and who doesn’t want the credibility that comes with that?
‘Greatest swimmer alive’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it, but if we strip away all the superlatives and focus on the body of work, it’s hard to argue Michael Phelps hasn’t accomplished everything under the sun as an Olympian. The numbers speak for themselves, with Phelps holding the record for most Olympic gold medals (23) and gold medals in individual events (13).
We’ve never seen anyone else have a 23-gold medal haul, but we have seen several athletes – five to be exact, including Bolt – capture nine. This is where Bolt’s supporters would vouch for quality over quantity.
Yes, Bolt hasn’t lost at the Games since 2004 and not since he became the Bolt we know him to be, but versatility matters.
Bolt competes in three events – 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay – whereas Phelps has claimed gold in eight different events – 100m fly, 200m fly, 200m IM, 200m free, 400m IM, 4x200m free, 4×100 medley and 4×100 free.
Bolt hasn’t even matched two stars in his own sport, as Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens – who has a case over Bolt in terms of influence – once won gold in four events, adding in the long jump.
Longevity also favours Phelps, who has been dominant since 2004 and arguably had his most impressive Games in Rio, considering his age, 31, and the time he spent out of the sport between 2012 and 2014.