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Sushil Kumar fell short of winning a gold medal at the London Olympics by a whisker, but firmly etched his name in the Games' history as the first Indian to win medals at successive Olympics.
The whole of India stopped for a while and waited with bated breath as Sushil clashed with Japan's Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu in the gold medal wrestling bout of the 66kg category. But despite all the prayers and good wishes from a billion Indians, he fell short and was outclassed 3-1 by Yonemitsu.
Nevertheless, it was a proud day for both, the grappler and India. The country doubled its medal tally of the Beijing Games, finishing with a haul of six, including two silver and four bronze, its best haul ever.
There were reports that Sushil was suffering from dehydration as he had a stomach upset before the final bout; he was also tired, having fought four bouts in the space of four-five hours. But he did not offer any excuses for missing out on the gold medal.
"I had a stomach infection, but difficulty and pain are part of the sport. Without the stomach infection, I could have tried harder. I trained very well," said Sushil after the bout.
Talking about his second consecutive Olympic medal, following the bronze he won in Beijing four years ago, the Haryana grappler said, "I had promised that the colour of the medal will change this time and I am happy to have delivered even though the medal was silver and not gold."
In the final, he was unable to match the pace and power of Yonemitsu, who went on an all-out attack from the start.
"I had a very good lead in the semi-final, but in the final my opponent knew my technique. I tried to be the champion. Everyone said I could win, but I got the silver," he reasoned.
He paid tribute to his training partners back home in India.
"I have been saying before the Olympic Games that I'm going to give my best. Where I practice in India, I had good opponents to practice with. This silver medal has been possible because of them. At the next Olympics it's going to be even better," he said.
Yogeshwar Dutt claimed India's first medal in the sport at the Games on Saturday when he won the bronze in the 60kg event, and Sushil expressed hope that the two medals will help take the sport to a new level in the coming years.
"Before the Olympic Games, I had great preparation. This is very good for Indian wrestling. I thank my countrymen, my coach and my parents. I have their blessings and they prayed for me," he said.
For now, Sushil is looking to take some time off and spend time with his family,
"Right now I just want to rest and relax. I have been practicing intensely for the last four to five months, now I want to go back to my family and rest," he said.