Yogeshwar Dutt said that it was not a difficult decision to quit the mat since he did it for his favourite student Bajrang Punia, who he thinks can go on to become India’s first wrestler to win an Olympic gold.
Yogeshwar is only the third Indian wrestler to win an Olympic medal a bronze at the 2012 London Games after KD Jadhav and Sushil Kumar.
In his successful career, Yogeshwar also won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in 2014.
The Haryana wrestler, who is celebrating his 35th birthday today, said he is focused on preparing Bajrang for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It’s important that Bajrang is prepared and supported for an Olympic medal. He is good but can do much better. I can’t compete in 2020, so it is better, we help Bajrang. He will be a strong medal contender for gold in Tokyo,” Yogeshwar told agencies.
“I had a good career. I played four Olympics. In our second line of wrestlers, Bajrang is doing well and can be better. So it’s important to give him that chance and support,” said Yogeshwar, who also competes in the 65kg category, in which Bajrang has emerged as a force.
“If it was not for Bajrang, I would not have quit the mat. I would have competed for more and maybe could have moved up a category. But I thought it is the right decision. He is only 24. Since his junior days, he showed a spark. I want people of India to see Yogeshwar in Bajrang now. I had a long career and I don’t want that Bajrang gets affected,” Yogeshwar said.
Talking about Bajrang’s final bout at Worlds in Budapest, Yogeshwar said that he needs to shore up his defence.
Yogeshwar said his personal ambition, apart from Bajrang, is to produce champions from his academy in Goahana.
“I want wrestlers from my academy to become world champions. I don’t have government support but JSW is supporting us. They are sponsoring our 15 kids,” he signed off.