‘Retirement is something that is not even on my mind’
In the twilight of his career and prone to injuries like never before, ace Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt is still eager to continue and insists that the thought of retirement has not even crossed his mind yet.
The 34-year-old, who won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics, had announced that the Rio Games were to be his last Olympics. But after failing in his endeavour to win a medal there, his search for a grand swansong continues for the time being.
Being away from action for the last eight months and an injury-prone body notwithstanding, the Haryana-grappler has put his retirement plans on the backburner.
"Retirement is something that is not even on my mind. I would like to make a comeback to the international arena before bidding adieu to the sport. So, there are no plans of quitting any time soon," Yogeshwar said.
Despite being bogged down by numerous injuries, the passion for his sport remains intact and Yogeshwar wants to bring the curtains down on his glorious career by winning one last medal for the country.
"I have suffered from a number of injuries in the past one year or so. Thus, my main focus is on attaining fitness. And only after I am completely injury-free, I would be able to assess where I stand and decide when I can compete," he said.
"I would certainly be returning to the mat but when would that be, I am not sure. Right now my aim is to achieve full fitness and only after that I would choose which tournament to take part in."
Yogeshwar has not competed since his heartbreaking loss in the first round of the Rio Games in the men's 65kg freestyle.
During his 0-3 defeat to Mongolia's Mandakhnaran Ganzorig at Rio de Janeiro, Yogeshwar looked a pale shadow of himself. He was seen trying to use his power rather than speed to win points. It raised questions about his chronic knee injury.
Yogeshwar is keen that his weaknesses are never highlighted the way they got highlighted in Rio.
Asked whether he is targeting either the Commonwealth Games or the Asian Games scheduled next year, to make a comeback, the legendary grappler remained non-committal.
"It would be unfair to commit right now whether I would be participating in either Commonwealth or Asian Games. I would need to sit down and gather my thoughts before returning to action at the international arena," he insisted.
He wants to remain competitive, but Yogeshwar has already started giving back to the game, having opened a wrestling academy in Sonepat with an aim to groom budding talent.
"I have opened my academy recently, so I am very busy with that. It is my way of contributing to the sport that has given me so much," concluded Yogeshwar.