India’s sports minister Ajay Maken said on Sunday Sushil Kumar’s back-to-back Olympic medals show that there is a bright future for wrestling in the country.
“Yogeshwar (Dutt) fought valiantly Saturday night to win the bronze medal. Today Sushil was in a great form and we expected a gold medal for him. But silver is also a great achievement for India. They have proved that wrestling has a great future in the country,” said Maken.
“Sushil has created history today by winning two back-to-back Olympic medals. It is a huge achievement for the country,” he said.
The sports minister also said that Sushil, also a Beijing Games bronze medallist, and Yogeshwar would be duly rewarded.
“The government will duly reward Sushil and Yogeshwar. It has been a great performance by India at the Olympics. Except archery and hockey, we have won medals in all events from where we had expectations,” said Maken.
Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Singh also hailed Sushil and Yogeshwar for their heroics in London.
“Sushil fought very well. He knew the Japanese fighter well. He was not 100 percent fit going into the final after three tough fights. One should not forget that he had to come back strongly after conceding three points in the final round in the semi-finals,” said Singh.
Sushil became the first individual athlete from India to win back-to-back medals at the Olympics after settling for silver in the men's 66 kg freestyle event, ending the country's campaign in London Games with the best ever haul of six medals.
Sushil ran out of steam against Japan's Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, losing 1-3 in what was his fourth fight of the day.
The silver here meant an improvement from his Beijing show four years ago when his bronze medal increased wrestling's popularity in India by leaps and bounds and overnight made him a star.
His silver was India's fourth wrestling medal in the Olympics and second in London after his childhood friend Yogeshwar won a bronze in the 60 kg freestyle event on Saturday. Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav won the country's first medal in the sport at the 1952 Helsinki edition.