“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.
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.