Yogeshwar knows London is his last chance to win an Olympic medal
With two unsuccessful attempts behind his back, London-bound Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt pretty well knows it is his last chance to win an Olympic medal when he competes in his third and probably last Games in two months' time.
For Yogeshwar, who almost had an abrupt end to his career because of a knee injury in 2009, the London Games will be his third consecutive appearance at the quadrennial event and he seemed determined to make optimum use of the opportunity.
The grappler who beat two-time world champion Dilshod Mansurov of Uzbekistan to qualify for this year's Olympics at Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Astana Kazakhstan, said it was the loss in the 2008 Beijing Olympics that kept him motivated to fight for a place in the London Games.
"If I had won a medal in Beijing, probably I wouldn't have been a part of this Olympics. I had a career threatening injury, got operated twice, but the only thing that kept me motivated was a medal in the Olympics," said Yogeshwar.
The combative grappler injured his knee just after the 2008 Olympics and had to undergo two operations to get back to the mat.
'It was very difficult to make a comeback from the injury'
"It was very difficult to make a comeback from the injury, but my well wishers and coaches kept faith in me and motivated me to get back on my feet. There was a lot of change in my attitude and in my technique," said Yogeshwar.
The 29-year-old informed that preparations for the London Games began just after his loss in Beijing four years ago.
"The preparations began long ago, just after the Beijing Olympics. 2009 was terrible, I injured my knee but I kept my mind focused and cameback strongly to win gold in the Commonwealth Games," he said.
Yogeshwar said that he is in right frame of mind right now, and London is probably his best chance to finish at the podium.
"If you talk about today, I can say that my body is in better shape. The wrestler, whom I beat in the qualifiers is a two-time World champion. That way I am in a better state now and probably this will be my last Olympics, so I really want to make it count," he said.
Asked if there was added pressure on him to win a medal in the London Games, Yogeshwar said, "The pressure is there, you can't deny that. But at the same time it also helps you to keep yourself up for the challenge. And as soon as you hit the mat, all the pressure ends there."
Photographs: Oleg Popov/REUTERS
'The mood in the camp is very positive'
Talking about the future course of action ahead of the all-important Olympics, Yogeshwar said they have a three-week long camp in USA before heading to the Belarus to prepare for the London event."We will be heading for Colarado Springs, USA later this month for a three-week camp and after that we will go to Belarus and from there we will directly go to London," he said.
Yogeshwar along with Sushil Kumar, Narsingh Yadav and Amit Kumar will represent India at the Olympics in the men's wrestling competition and the Haryana grappler is upbeat about India's chances at the sporting extravaganza.
"Amit is quite young, but we live like a family.Everybody helps out each other so the mood in the camp is very positive. We are optimistic that we can do well for the country this time around," he insisted.
Asked about the recent controversies surrounding Indian wrestling, Yogeshwar said, "I am not concerned about, who is doing what. I am more focused on what I have to do, what all is happening outside the mat in the sport is the concern of the Wrestling Federation of India and the Sports Authority of India."
Image: Sushil Kumar