The 37-year-old also spoke about his journey at the 2012 London Olympics.

Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt has hailed Leander Paes as one of the reasons why he wanted to take part in the Olympics. He realized his dream when he competed in the Athens Olympics in 2004 but the wrestler’s inexperience at the highest level then meant that he couldn’t make his mark at the global event at the first time of asking.

“I got to know about the Olympics only in 1996. I remember asking my father about it after I saw Leander Paes on TV and he told me about the Olympics,” Yogeshwar Dutt revealed in the Medal of Glory show streamed by Sony Sports on their Facebook page.

“It used to be a big thing for a sportsperson to be featured on TV at that time,” he went on to add.

After an unglamorous showing in his very first Olympics, the Indian grappler picked up a bronze medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and also bagged gold medals at the Commonwealth games. He looked in promising touch ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics but once again failed to make the desired impact.   

Yogeshwar Dutt remarked, “I had prepared well for the Beijing Games and reached the quarter-finals. But I had lost my bout by just one point in the last 7-8 seconds. It was right then that I had made up my mind to win a medal for the country in the next Olympics.”

However, injuries had started to halt his progress. A knee injury in 2009 and a severe back injury in 2010 ensured he remained on the sidelines for a substantial amount of time. He said, “The biggest challenge has been returning from injuries. There was a time I was unable to compete for almost a year due to an injury.”

On returning from his injury setbacks, Yogeshwar Dutt was mentally and physically stronger. Nonetheless, he still yearned for that elusive Olympic medal. The prospect of winning that medal looked precarious after he was pitted into a group comprised of some wrestlers at the very top of their game.

Yogeshwar Dutt stated“I was clubbed with five-time World Champion Besik Kudukhov of  Russia, World Championships silver medallist Franklin Gomez from Puerto and 2010 Asian Champion Masoud Esmaeilpour of Iran among others.”

He began his expedition in London with a close win over Bulgaria’s Anatolie Guidea but suffered a demoralizing defeat against Besik Kudukhov in the pre-quarterfinals. However, the Russian’s run to the final gave him another shot at winning an Olympic medal through the repechage round. From that moment onwards, the wrestler made no mistake as he defeated the likes of Franklin Gomez and Masoud Esmaeilpour, before finally securing the bronze medal by beating Ri Jong-Myong.

“I lost to Kudokhov by one point in the second bout. But I knew that he would make it to the finals as he was the five-time world champion. I knew this was my last chance to win the Olympic medal. In the next 45 minutes, I contested and won three bouts to win an Olympic medal. I have dreamt of it since 1996 when Leander Paes had won it,” concluded Yogeshwar.