It was another productive day for Indian wrestlers at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday, Yogeshwar Dutt and Narsingh Panch Yadav winning gold medals in the 60 and 74 kg freestyle category respectively.
While Yogeshwar outclassed Canadia's James Mancini, winning 9-2 (3-1, 6-1), Narsing scored a hard-fought 4-0 victory over South Africa's Richard Addinall.
Another India wrestler Anil Mann, however, lost in the first round.
With Rahul Gandhi in the stands cheering, the Indian wrestlers didn't disappoint the jam-packed partisan crowd at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex. Yogeshwar, in fact, went up to seek the Congress MP's blessings soon after winning his bout.
For Yogeshwar, who is battling a career-threatening knee injury, the gold was the much-needed morale booster he needed. After being out for a year-and-half, he returned for the World Championship but lost in the first round.
"I can't tell you how happy I am after winning the gold medal. I am speechless. Mr Rahul Gandhi came to watch us fight. Actually, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda called up this morning to inform that Rahul sir would come to watch our fight. When I went up to him, he told me 'now you should get gold for the country in the Olympics'," a beaming Yogeshwar said after his victory.
"After coming back from injury, I fought really hard to get back my form. But I must also thank the crowd for coming in huge numbers and supporting us. You always feel that you need to win in front of your home crowd who have paid a price to buy the tickets," said Yogeshwar, who literally ran out of breath while speaking to mediapersons.
So what does he attribute his fairytale comeback to?
"Willpower. I knew I had to make a comeback. I still feel that there is not much time to relax. Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will be again back training hard for the Guangzhou Asian Games."
Yogeshwar also feels that tomorrow Sushil Kumar will also win gold.
For Narsingh, who was not initially selected in the Commonwealth Games wrestling squad, the victory dispelled all the doubts about his abilities.
"I was very upset when initially I wasn't selected. But after my selection, I didn't want to look back. The focus was solely on winning the gold medal," said the Railways wrestler from Maharashtra.
Asked whether he expects to be rewarded after this performance, he replied: "My job is to win medals. If I get rewarded, well and good, but that's not the priority," Narsingh said before being frisked away for the customary dope test.