Mir Mohtesham Ali Khan, the acclaimed bodybuilder from Hyderabad, brought a rare honour to the country by winning the bronze medal at the Musclemania World Tour competition, the highly-respected World Bodybuilding Championship in Las Vegas, California.
The 33-year-old Mohtesham Ali Khan won the bronze in the heavyweight category of the championship, held at the Grand Hall of Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The 6'2" Khan, who made it to top ten and then the top five on the first day of the competition, gave impressive performance in the final, which saw professional bodybuilders from China and Columbia win the gold and the bronze medals.
Mohtesham, who before leaving Hyderabad last week had vowed to bring laurels to the country in a field where Indians do not have much to celebrate till now, said, "I had hoped and worked hard to leave my mark. Even then this victory is much more than what I had dreamt. Achieving something at this level of international competition is not easy," he said over phone for Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mohtesham was, however, not the only bright spot for India. Prakash, another of the eight Indians participating in the event, won the gold medal in the lightweight category. There were five categories in which 400 bodybuilders from 26 countries participated.
As the news of Khan's victory spread, hundreds of his supporters and well-wishers gathered at his residence in Hussaini Alam area of old Hyderabad to celebrate. The city's youth took out a procession, with Mohtesham's daughters Tahera and Humaira carrying the national flag on camelback.
Mohtesham's father, Mir Abul Mani Khan, was so moved by the good news from Las Vegas that he could not hold back tears.
"We prayed for him throughout the night as he was participating in the contest," he said. "It is a great joy for all of us as he has brought name and honuor to the country", he said.
Khan is the first body builder from Andhra Pradesh to compete in the championship.
Mohtesham, who works with Indian Railways and won several medals at the national level, said he is thankful to God and the people who supported him.
"I am very happy and I dedicate this victory to my country, my people. My wish of doing country proud is fulfilled," he said.