We are good at CWG, Asian level but not yet world class: Yogeshwar Dutt
The Commonwealth Games wasn’t a walk in the park for the 31-year-old Yogeshwar Dutt but he almost made it seem that way. He was quick, he was strong and at the Commonwealth Games level, he was almost untouchable.
Yogeshwar was billed as the favourite in the 65kg category, but the grappler from Sonipat says that these things don’t go to his head when taking to the mat: “The focus is solely on the match. If I start thinking about being a favourite, it will affect my performance. I don’t take any opponent lightly,” he told Firstpost.
Yogeshwar and Sushil Kumar both won gold medals in the International Wrestling Competition in Sassari, Italy in June and followed it up with golds at the Commonwealth Games which just got wrapped up in Glasgow.
It is a phenomenal achievement for both wrestlers considering they had changed their weight categories to accommodate a recent FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles) modification. Yogeshwar was originally a competitor in the 60kg category while Sushil competed in the 66kg category.
APWhile Rio 2016 remains his long-term target, Yogeshwar’s immediate challenge will be the Asian Games in Incheon in September-October. AP
It was all the more special for Yogeshwar who didn’t compete at all in 2013 due to a knee injury. However, his comeback has been spectacular: “I didn’t compete at all in 2013 and then won golds in Italy and Glasgow. The CWG gold was all the more important since it confirms a successful shift to a new category. The preparations now will even be better. I just pray I don’t get injured again,” he said.
The CWG 2010 gold medallist, who is now a senior member of India’s wrestling contingent, said Bajrang – who won the bronze at the World Championships in 2013 – lost his final against Canada’s David Tremblay in the 61kg category event because he took his his opponent lightly: “We’ve told Bajrang (and other wrestlers who lost in the final) about the mistakes they made and how to correct them. Next time hopefully they won’t repeat them because if they do, then we’ll keep losing.”
But Yogeshwar is not just thinking about mistakes made by others — the Olympian wants to iron out his own game and get stronger — and it is this belief in himself that makes us believe that his best is yet to come: “You can always get better — there are limitations to that game and if I stay injury-free I will iron them out. I’m particularly working hard on my strength — the target being another Olympics medal,” he said.
While Rio 2016 remains his long-term target, Yogeshwar’s immediate challenge will be the Asian Games in Incheon in September-October — and he’s ready to give next month’s World Championships at Tashkent a miss for a good performance in South Korea.
“I may not compete in the World Championships as there is just a 10-day gap between that tournament and the Asian Games. And being prone to injuries, might not be able to recover to fight gruelling bouts at Incheon. The competition at the Asian Games is going to be higher as more countries will take part and the wrestlers who would be participating there, are expected to pose bigger threat. I will have to focus more during the Asian Games” Yogeshwar told PTI in a separate interview.
Yogeshwar is pleased with India’s haul of 13 wrestling medals at the CWG, but calls for improvement at the world level: “Things have changed after success at the Olympics and we’re good at Asian and Commonwealth level — however, we need to get better at the world level.”