For Yogeshwar Dutt, Korea a Happy Hunting Ground

Yogeshwar Dutt, who has lived in the shadows of Sushil Kumar, scripted a piece of wrestling history in the Incheon Asian Games on Sunday and remembered how Korea has been a happy hunting ground for him. Dutt’s achievement was India’s first in freestyle wrestling since Kartar Singh’s gold medal at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.

“I’m very happy and enjoying every moment as India have won a gold medal in Asian Games after 28 years and Korea has been a lucky country for me. It was in Korea that I won the gold for the first time in Asian Championships in 2008 and again in 2012 and now at the Asian Games. And when I won in 2008 it was our first gold in 21 years,” Yogeshwar said.

The Asian Games gold was one that Yogeshwar Dutt has always wanted in his kitty. He moved from 60 to 65 kg for the Incheon Games and adapted well to win the gold in a closely fought contest Tajikistan’s Zalimkahn Yusupov. Deep within him, Dutt was desperate. He has waited for eight years to be in this position and the Sonepat wrestler held on to a slender lead in the final.

“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 (London) Olympic medal. Now comes the Asian Games gold. I owe it to him,” said an emotional Dutt, adding: “My father would have loved to see me win these medals, so these are all for him.”

It’s been a productive year for Dutt. “I competed in three competitions – the Grand Prix in Italy, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games – and I won gold in all three. In the coming years, I want to improve further.”

Apart from the fact that he wanted to win the gold for his father, Dutt said critics put pressure when they said Indians would wilt against top class matmen at the Asian Games.