Olympians, coaches hail Indian grapplers' show
Silver medallist Sushil became the first Indian to win back-to-back individual medals in the Olympics.
New Delhi: A day after India finished the Olympics on a rousing note, with Sushil Kumar clinching a historic double, the country's former wrestlers said that the feat would inspire many more to follow in the footsteps of those who tasted success at the British capital.
With his silver in 66kg freestyle category, Sushil on Sunday became the first Indian to win back-to-back individual medals in the world's biggest sporting extravaganza. He had won a bronze in Beijing four years ago.
"We went to Beijing Games, keeping in mind that we have to win a medal, but this time our focus was on nothing less than a gold. And I believe our wrestlers put up a great performance. Both Yogeshwar and Sushil were brilliant," said Olympian Kartar Singh, who represented India's wrestling contingent in three successive Games from 1980.
The Asian Games gold medallist added that the glory in London Games will inspire more and more youngsters to pursue the traditional sport.
"Wrestling in India has a long history and the heroics in London will inspire youngsters to seriously follow the sport.
We have some up and coming talent in the country and I hope the medals tally only swells from here on," he said.
Kartar also felt that Indian wrestlers could have finished the Games with an even better result.
"Yogeshwar could have finished on a better note. He was not able to latch on to the opportunities provided to him.
However, to finish the Olympics with a bronze, is a great achievement.
"Sushil did not let go any chance that came his way. He fought exceptionally well and if he would not have been hampered by an injury in the final, he would have probably finished with the gold," said Kartar.
The Punjab wrestler was though critical of the way in which the 2010 world champion let his opponent claw back into the quarterfinal match after being in a position to seal the bout in the second period.
"One extra period that Sushil had to fight in the quarters against Ikhtiyor Navruzov of Wzbekistan after conceding a point in the dying moments of the second period followed by a tough semi-finals bout against Kazakhstan's Akzhurek Tanatarov proved decisive.
"If he had not to go through such a grinding he would probably have finished at the top," Kartar told PTI.
Mumbai-based Jagmal Singh, who is also the mentor and coach of Narsingh Pancham Yadav, meanwhile said that the medals in London will help the sport regain its lost glory.
"After winning a bronze in Beijing four years ago, wrestling mats were laid all around Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Undoubtedly, the silver-medal finish at the Games will inspire the young enthusiasts to pursue the sport which augurs well for the future," Jagmal said.
Asked about his wards' performance in the Olympics, Jagmal said although he was disappointed with Narsingh's performance he believed that the Mumbai grappler can make it count in the next Games.
"Narsingh is a very good wrestler and I have full faith in his capability. It was unfortunate that he lost in the opening round. But I am sure that he will come back stronger in the next Games," he said.
Jagmal also revealed that Narsingh was nursing a back injury in the run-up to the Games, and that had an effect on his performance.
"He was struggling with a back injury for sometime and I believe it had a big role to play in his ouster," he added.
1972 Olympian and Wrestling Federation of India treasurer, Premnath Singh, said that after such a wonderful show in London, the government should open its coffers for the wrestlers.
"This is a great moment for the Indian sports and for the wrestling fraternity. After what our wrestlers have achieved in London, the ministry should open up its coffers for the grapplers. After all the sport needs much more," Premnath said.
He also informed that WFI had already decided to award Rs 1 lakh each to the medal winning wrestlers.