Even before coming to Rio, Yogeshwar Dutt was termed as “best hope” for India to get a “big” medal.
As the London Olympics bronze-medallist Yogeshwar’s approaches the big day, Sunday, there is a complete secrecy over his state of preparedness and fitness, like any other time in the past. One thing is for sure that Yogeshwar has been watching each and every important bout in which India has been participating in Rio de Janeiro. He tweets constantly shooting off his messages for others. However, there is no update on his form and condition.
Ahead of the men’s 65kg freestyle event, Yogeshwar might be carrying the burden of the controversy that has engulfed Indian wrestling in the last few days. The way his dope-tainted teammate Narsingh Pancham Yadav, was slapped with a four-year ban for the sheer irresponsible act of Wrestling Federation of India, keeping himself aloof from all these happenings may not be that simple a matter for Yogeshwar.
“Nothing is going right for us. What to do? But we are trying to keep Yogeshwar out of all this,” said India’s men’s freestyle coach Jagminder Singh. “Yogeshwar is our last medal hope. We just pray that he gets a good draw,” added Jagminder.
Yogeshwar has never tried to hide his thoughts on the Narsingh issue — first in the court of law and then in the Court of Arbitration of Sports. In fact, Indian officials confirm that Yogeshwar and Narsingh were staying all through in the same building at the Games Village when this entire drama was unfolding in Rio. And when Narsingh was asked to leave the Village and his accreditation taken away, Yogeshwar was never far away from all what was happening.
At 33, Yogeshwar has been fighting with injuries. He managed to get Rio berth after recovering from three surgeries last year. Playing his fourth Olympics, there is certainly a question mark over the fitness of this Delhi-based grappler.
“Yogeshwar bhai is fit and you will see him winning gold on Sunday,” was how a fellow wrestler told dna. But it was not long before packing bags for Rio that people around Yogeshwar were worried about “one of his injury”. “Injuries keep happening in contact sport. The one he suffered before coming to Rio was not that serious. Don’t worry on that account,” said a junior wrestler.
Yogeshwar has been put in lower half of the draw and will take on Mandakhnaran Ganzorig of Mongolia in the first bout. His next round opponent could be a winner between Katai Yeerlanbie Ke of China and Sahit Prizreni of Australia.
Ha Veranes Garcia of Canada, Soslan Ramonov of Russia, Alejandro Enrique Valdes Tobier of Cuba and Mustafa Kaya of Turkey are also placed in Yogeshwar’s group only.