20 August : India’s fledgling Olympic campaign on Wednesday received a sensational boost with unheralded grappler Sushil Kumar clinching a bronze medal and boxer Vijender Kumar assuring himself of at least a bronze to give the country a record three medals for the first time ever.
A star was born on Wednesday with Vijender packing enough punch in the ring to assure himself of an Olympic medal, the hue of which would be determined by the outcome of his semifinal match on Friday.
Boxer Vijender Singh ensured another medal for India at the Beijing Olympics when he outpunched Carlos Gongora of Ecuador in the quarterfinal of the 75kg category bout today.
The Bhiwani pugilist, one of India’s best medal hopes, was ahead in all the four rounds and clinched the bout 9-4.The Ecuadorean had no answer to his rival’s flurry of punches and trailed 1-4 in the second round.
Vijender made the difference with his left-hand jabs and crucial uppercuts to which Carlos had no answer.With the score reading 7-2 in favour of Vijender after the penultimate round, the Ecuadorean needed to go all out in the fourth and final round.
He did manage to close the gap but Vijender’s evading tactics and excellent footwork won him the bout.The Haryana boxer shunned extravagance and clung on to his hard-earned lead to outsmart Carlos Gongora of Ecuador 9-4 and set up a semifinal clash with formidable Cuban and two-time Pan American champion Emilio Correa Bayeaux.
Having seen the plight of Akhil Kumar and Jitender, who came agonisingly close to win their Olympic medal, Vijender refrained from playing to the gallery and maintained a dour defence which Gongora simply could not breach.
Vijender looked indefatigable and his nimble footwork stood him in good stead as the Indian tired out his opponent and connected most of his blows to run away with the game.
Once he got himself into a 3-0 lead, Vijender decided he was not going to do anything silly and started evading, with a desperate and exasperated Gongora chasing him all over.
Vijender often looked cornered but he bobbed and weaved fast enough to avert most of the blows and Gongora’s frustration knew no bound.Vijender will now take on 2007 Pan American games gold medallist Emilio Correa Dayeaux of Cuba in the semifinal on Friday.
Emilio’s father Emilio Correa Vaillant was the gold medallist in the 1972 Munich Olympics in 69-kg category.
Unheralded Sushil Kumar rose from obscurity to find his rightful place in the history of Indian sports when he won the bronze medal in men’s 66kg freestyle category at the Beijing Olympics on Wednesday.
Sushil’s campaign seemed nearly over when he lost his first round battle against eventual silver medallist Andriy Stadnik but repechage provided him a ray of hope and the Indian proved simply irresistible as he beat three grapplers on the trot to win the bronze.
Down in the dumps after his opening round defeat, Sushil came up with an incredible show, beating Doug Schwab (USA), Albert Batyrov (Belarus) and finally the losing semifinalist Leonid Spiridonov (Kazakhstan) in the repechage rounds to earn his slice of history.
Sushil thus became the second Indian wrestler after K D Jadhav who won a bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Games to win an Olympic medal.
Incidentally, in the 2006 Doha Asian Games also, Sushil had beaten Leonid to win the bronze.Against Leonid, Sushil grabbed early initiative by scoring two technical points that proved decisive in the end.
Though the Kazakh grappler scored one in the second period and managed to thwart Sushil, the Indian proved his
superiority again in the third period and eventually prevailed 3-2 to trigger frenzied celebration among the Indians present at the Chinese Agricultural University in Beijing.
PM shower praise on Sushil and Vijender
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday congratulated Sushil Kumar on winning the bronze medal at the Olympic games and said the wrestler’s achievement would inspire all young sportspersons.
"Your accomplishment will inspire all young sportspersons of the country to excel in their chosen fields of endeavour," he said in a letter to the Delhi wrestler.Congratulating him on winning the bronze medal in the 66-kg wrestling event, Singh said, "Your achievement has brought joy and pride to the nation." Courtsey DDINEWS