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How Sushil became India's best Olympian
Though he failed at the final hurdle, a second individual medal in Olympics has made Sushil India's best Olympian.
London: Yogeshwar Dutt's bronze on the penultimate day of London Olympics 2012 set it up nicely for a Sushil Kumar finale on a Super Sunday, and though the Indian grappler failed at the final hurdle, a second individual medal in consecutive Olympics perched him on top of the ladder as India's best Olympian.
Yogeshwar, a veteran of three Olympics, and Sushil, the bronze medallist from Beijing 2008, were a few of India's best bets for a medal in London. But after archery, shooter Ronjan Sodhi and men's boxing drew a blank, everybody thought the hype has jinxed India's aspirations - until the duo came up with two medals in two days to end the Games on a memorable note.
Sports lovers woke up with withdrawal symptoms on a Sunday morning after Yogeshwar's bronze helped India sleep tight. Messages on Indian athletes were scarce on the social media but warming up as the clock approached 1:30 p.m. IST - the time of Sushil's Round-of-16 match against Turkey's Ramazan Sahin, the Beijing gold medallist.
That was clearly Sushil's biggest hurdle on the road to final but he stunned the Turk to move into the quarter-finals, where he was lined up against Ikhtiyor Navruzov of Uzbekistan. Sushil beat Navruzov 6-3 to make his way into the semis.
For the first time in London - after Geeta Phogat, Amit Kumar and Narsingh Yadav - India's defeated opponents were praying for Sushil to reach the final, so that they can challenge for bronze in repechage. And Sushil didn't disappoint them as he ousted Kazakhstan's Akzhurek Tanatarov to qualify for the gold medal match. History had been created, but Sushil wasn't done yet.
Japanese Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu was Sushil's last frontier. A win there and Sushil could end India's gold draught in London. Everybody waited with bated breath for the hands of the clock to merge at 6:30 p.m. IST. They did and the India v Japan battle began.
India's sixth medal was assured but will it be a gold or a silver was an answer that only the final could answer. The match didn't last long, but India's wait ended on a slightly disappointing note after a superb five-hour run for Sushil on this last day.
Sushil was beaten by Yonemitsu 3-1 midway through the second period in which a strong throw by the Japanese sent Sushil to the mat.But as they say every cloud has a silver lining.
A bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012, India's best Olympian is surely destined for gold at Rio 2016.