Dutt's Oly quest had a Chechnya twist

Missing out on an Olympic medal by a whisker at Beijing four summers ago, and a career-threatening knee injury a year later made Yogeshwar Dutt so determined to shine in London that he didn’t think twice before going to bomb-ravaged Vladikavkaz on Russia-Chechnya border for a two-month training stint.

Wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt at his residence. PTIHis request to train at the Russian city left his sponsors Mittal Champion Trust (MCT) bewildered, but Dutt was determined. They tried to convince Dutt, who merely said: “Marna hai to kahin bhi mar jayenge but Olympic medal ke liye kuch bhi karne ke liye tayyar hoon (If I have to die, I can die anywhere. But I will do anything to win an Olympic medal).”

He went, leaving Ramadhar Yadav, the MCT coordinator who has been working with him for a long time, softened with admiration. “When I met him for the first time, I told him I am going to help you win an Olympic medal, can you do it? He said “you support me and I will give you everything.” I was surprised that within the first 10 days I stayed with him at Vladikavkaz, he had made friends at the training centre and was even chatting on skype. His grasping power is amazing,” he said.

Dutt trained there alone without a celllphone, barring occasional excursions online. When Yadav returned to take him, they were nearly arrested. “The police officials could not understand English and we had to stay for two hours in the police station. It was a terrifying night. It was only when we reached the airport could we breathe with ease,” Yadav said.

Relentless hard work resulted in an Olympic bronze.

"All these years this boy has only spoken of an Olympic medal. He has worked day and night. And when he won the medal, he called me and said I have finally fulfilled the dream of my (late) father and even mine,” his mother Sushila Devi, a retired teacher, told Deccan Herald.

His friends are no less proud of him and some have even taken a month’s break to help him through the riotous celebrations.

Yadav prays and hopes that the humble wrestler from Bhainswal Kalan gets his deserved place in the hearts of people. “When he won the Commonwealth Gold medal, some 25,000 people gathered in his village to celebrate. I told him, if you win an Olympic medal, the celebrations will be four times bigger.  He has kept his promise, it is now the country’s turn,” he said.

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