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Unheralded Sushil Kumar rose from obscurity to find a place in the history of Indian sport when he won a bronze medal in men's 66kg freestyle wrestling at the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images] on Wednesday.
Earlier, Abhinav Bindra [Images] gave India its first individual Olympics gold medal at the Beijing Games when he won the 10 metre Air Rifle event.
Sushil's campaign seemed over when he lost his first round bout 1-8 to eventual silver medallist Andriy Stadnik, but the repechage provided him a ray of hope, and the Indian proved simply irresistible as he beat three grapplers on the trot to win the bronze.
Down in the dumps after the opening round defeat, Sushil came up with an incredible show, beating Doug Schwab (3-1) of the United States, Albert Batyrov (3-1) of Belarus and, finally, the losing semi-finalist, Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan in the repechage rounds to earn his slice of history.
Spiridonov had finished fourth in the 66kg weight class at the Athens Games, while Kumar took 14th place there.
This is the first time since 1952 Helsinki Olympics that India has won two medals in a single Olympics.
Sushil thus became the second Indian wrestler after Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, who won a bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Games, to win an Olympic medal.
Incidentally, in the 2006 Doha Asian Games also Sushil had beaten Spiridonov to win the bronze.
Against Spiridonov, Sushil grabbed early initiative by scoring two technical points that proved decisive in the end.
Though the Kazakh grappler scored a point in the second period to check Sushil, the Indian proved his superiority in the third period and eventually prevailed 3-2 to trigger frenzied celebrations among the Indians present at the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing. Sushil scores read 2-1, 0-1, 1-0 in the three periods.
Otar Tushishvili of Georgia also won a bronze, beating Geandry Garzon of Cuba 3-1 in the other third place match.
Ramazan Shahin of Turkey took the gold, defeating Stadnik, Sushil Kumar's conqueror in the pre-quarter-finals.
In the gold medal bout, Stadnik took the first period 2-2 by scoring the last point. Shahin then clawed back to take the next 2-1. The deciding period was 2-2 after the first two minutes, but Shahin scored the last point and thus won the bout.
This is the first gold medal won by Turkey at the Beijing Games' wrestling tournament.
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