Sushil wrestles his way to a stunning bronze(Second Lead)

August 20th, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (IANS) Freestyle wrestler Sushil Kumar scored a stunning win over Kazakhstan’s Leonid Spiridonov in the extra 30-second period after the third round of the 66 kg category to clinch a surprise bronze medal, when everyone had lost hope after his first round loss in the morning.It was India’s second medal of the Games, its first since 1952 in wrestling. It is also only the second time - the first being 1952 - that India have won more than one medal at the same Olympics.

In the morning, Sushil lost to Andriy Stadnik of Ukraine on points. But his slender hopes hung on the results of his conqueror, Stadnik, who went on to reach the final, thereby giving Sushil an extra lease of life as all wrestlers losing to the two finalists then contest the Repechage.Sushil won all his three bouts in the Repechage to clinch a stunning bronze for India.

“I thought I could have won the bout in the morning, but luck was later with me as the Ukraine wrestler reached the final and I got into the Repechage. It was still not easy and fighting three bouts in just over one hour is very tiring and tough,” said the 25-year-old Sushil.

“I owe my career to Satpal Singh, who is my guru and taught me all that I know. I dedicate this medal to him,” he said minutes after winning. Satpal, a former Asian Games champion, competed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

After losing his opening bout, Sushil had to wait for nearly an hour and 40 minutes to know whether he was still alive in the competition. It was only after Stadnik had beaten Spiridonov in the semi-finals to earn a berth into the finals, that Sushil’s place in Repachage was confirmed.

In the first Repechage round, Sushil beat American Doug Schwab, the World No. 5, and then in the second round he moved past Albert Batyrov of Belarus for a final fight against Spiridonov, who was fourth at the last Olympic Games.

In the last and final Repechage bout, Sushil Kumar after being tied 2-2 seemed to be unlucky when his rival drew the lot for a hold to break the tie. But Sushil defied the normal odds and outpointed Spiridonov in that extra time for a technical point and emerged victorious as the crowd and the coaches in his red corner went up in jubilation.

“This is a great medal for Indian wrestling and will go a long way in promoting Olympic sports in India,” added three-times Asian Games medallist wrestler and team manager Kartar Singh, who finished seventh in the 1984 Olympics. Kartar won the gold medal in 1978 and 1986 Asian Games and silver in 1982 in Delhi.

Sushil, who finished 14th it the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 60 kg category, is the only Indian wrestler to have qualified for the Beijing event from the world championship in Azerbaijan in September. He finished seventh there and went on to win a bronze in the Asian Championship in Korea.

Jadhav got the bronze in the Freestyle Bantamweight class in Helsinki, 1952.

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