Rio Olympics: India lose, on the mat and off it

Yogeshwar Dutt goes down tamely to his Mongolian rival to complete India’s self-inflicted humiliation in men’s wrestling.

Written by Shivani Naik | Rio De Janeiro | Updated: August 30, 2016 7:59 pm
Yogeshwar Dutt, Yogeshwar Dutt India, India Yogeshwar Dutt, India Rio Olympics, Rio Olympics India, Rio 2016 Olympics India, Rio Olympics India, India contingent, India medals tally, India medals tally, Sports Yogeshwar Dutt crashed out in the qualification round. (Source: PTI)

Not a single tricolour to be spotted this gloomy morning in Rio, as the rain muddles pathways and the cold seeps right into the bone, even indoors. Not a single snatch of Hindi with that Haryanvi inflection to be heard from the mat — a familiar tongue that hits the high decibel when a medal’s round the corner, as it had in Beijing and London, making those distant lands seem for six minutes of a bout like home ground.

Not a final to look forward to in the early evening that can make you walk into the closing ceremony later looking both knackered from speed-typing a thousand words of gush, and also supremely satisfied as India moves up on the medals table. Sure, we were only 56th at London, but at least there was the Sushil Kumar silver and Yogeshwar Dutt bronze when signing off.

An Olympic wrestling competition hall buzzing with Russians, Americans, Japanese, the Iranians, Cubans and the Turks. And a quiet, listless, submissive exit from Dutt. Never mind the Narsingh Yadav-Sushil Kumar saga, where a federation’s stubbornness in not conducting trials professionally and later a severely botched up defense of a doping case, ended up shredding two reputations for life. And finally and starkly in comparison, there was no standing ovation today like London for a Dutt-special from Iranians and Americans after he’d wowed them with his signature move.

WATCH VIDEO: Yogeshwar Dutt Dedicates His Upgraded London Olympics Silver Medal To The Nation

 

Sakshi Malik has started a new chapter in women’s wrestling and the girl has that tremendous presence about herself that points to a good 2020 Games, a confidence and drive like Mary Kom, the icon. But you know where boxing — women’s and men’s — wound up after those two pathbreaking medals from Mary and Vijender and all those punch-off stunts when corporates and sports management companies joined the bandwagon. Wrestling had a commercial league to take the sport to the masses. But men’s freestyle lost its classiness when it returned empty-handed in medals from Rio.

First the Dutt bout. The 33-year-old, coming off a series of injuries, surgeries, rehabs, taped knees, patched up ankles, was a Merc shell running on a scooter’s rickety engine. He had worked intensely hard for his second medal, but his fitness was visibly suspect, looking painfully slow against the grand sounding but mediocre player Ganzorigin Mandakhnaran. You could call it a tame fight, except that Yogeshwar didn’t look like he could take to its logical conclusion any daanv.

He’d won the Asian qualifiers for his quota. But this entire Olympics for Indians — save Sakshi — has felt like the desperate struggle to get that coveted invite to the prom: not dressed for the occasion but happy knowing there’s somewhere to go.

The wrestlers were hardly seen at any international exposure meets — the one place they went in Spain, was enough indication of the poor form (Sakshi medalled there, though). If photo-ops of climbing ropes and pumping weight in gyms is going to serve as fitness certificates for Indian wrestlers, then the country can continue to dawdle about in mediocrity. The glitzy league cannot be a substitute for bonafide international meets —like the badminton or tennis players do. For all his credentials, no one had seen Narsingh fight abroad in anything other than a league not run by his own federation.

While the selection and dope sagas were massive distractions to the run-up, none of the wrestlers had been tested for battle readiness and went down tamely in all categories. The trip to Bulgaria will forever remain contentious after Narsingh’s positive.

Narsingh Yadav’s 74 kg — a colossally poorly handled weight category — went unrepresented, and India managed the spectacular task of not a single bout being fought on the mat in 74 kg, after six months of legal jousting and an off-the-mat ugly, political faceoff.

After all is said and done — you would expect the wrestling federation to at least lay down plans for future selections and finally accept the practice of pre-Olympic trials: not only to sort out the quota conundrum in case of multiple contenders in same weight division but also to assess fitness heading into the Olympics and send screened athletes.

In a self-congratulatory mode for having stood by one wrestler and successfully kept another away, the wrestling federation however doesn’t look any closer to bringing in transparency in selection. They won’t mind continue erring, if they can run away from holding the trials.

London’s two medals was a fine legacy that was squandered away at Rio. It’s not like the federation looks like it has even a toehold of the situation for Tokyo.

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  1. B
    Bnm
    Aug 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm
    Sack all politicians holding positions in Sports Bodieslt;br/gt;Put ExPlayers in Chargelt;br/gt;Invest in infrastructurelt;br/gt;Hire top coaches from Abroad,lt;br/gt;sports scientistslt;br/gt;nutrionistslt;br/gt;Psychologists ,lt;br/gt;strengthen gr roots
    Reply
    1. A
      arc
      Aug 22, 2016 at 8:08 am
      Indian Olympia's did much better in 2008 and 2012. UPA was in power then. Now with chaddis in power the showing is poorer. What happened to all the Chaddi nationalists selfie-ING in Rio? Not one of them had the will to hold up the Tricolor? Where is gold winner pujjaniya Vijay Goelji? If not flying the Tricolor Goelji could have at least paraded his gaumata.
      Reply
      1. S
        Sandesh Shetty
        Aug 22, 2016 at 6:47 am
        What u are doing in Home, simply sitting and watching Tv. You should have got qualified. At least did u qualify any of your school event? i think its a Big No. you know only to comment on somebody but do nothing.
        Reply
        1. T
          T DUTTA
          Aug 22, 2016 at 11:48 am
          IN HOCKEY THE INDIAN COACH REPLACED GOALKEEPER BY A NON GOALKEEPER FOR 5 MINUTES AGAINST HOLLAND-----TRUE A CAOCH CAN TRY NEW IDEAS BUT WHAT IS THIS?---WHAT AN IDEA SIRJEE?----THESE BIZZARE DECISIONS DISTURB THE MINDSET OF PLAYERS---INDIA DEFEATED ARGENTINA VERY EASILY IN GROUP MATCH BUT ARGENTINA WENT ON TO WIN THE GOLD MEDAL---WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE INDIAN TEAM?
          Reply
          1. g
            globalcitizen2222
            Aug 22, 2016 at 5:53 am
            Who cares about Olympics, today India's economy is the strongest and most positive economy in the world, unlike westerners who are dumb and obsessed with sports, Indians are obsessed with education and getting ahead in life. The very fact that all European countries and USA have so much immigration is because their own people are uneducated and dumb now, less than 25 percent Americans even have a college degree, these countries just have a good infrastructure and organised system but otherwise they are all in deep economic trouble and have no hopes for the future. Winning olympic medals is not as important as it is to keep your economy growing and improving. INdia faces a lot more challenges than just performing better at the Olympics. Other supposedly rich countries became wealthy by looting the rest of the world and imposing their own rules, at least India is becoming richer on its own merit, manpower and intelligence.
            Reply
            1. J
              jay
              Aug 22, 2016 at 4:50 am
              Oh but I thought Sultan won gold medal everywhere we help him to make 300 crore something and yesterday he challenged Nate Diaz and conor McGregor in ufc to fight em both at same time. What are you talking writer ?
              Reply
              1. K
                kingo
                Aug 22, 2016 at 6:33 am
                yes ...silent performers
                Reply
                1. A
                  Ashok Mazumdar
                  Aug 22, 2016 at 3:02 am
                  Our Politicians must go to Tokyo for 2020 in a new category (to be manufactured) for giving false hope since 1947. The best persons with worst promises must get Gold.
                  Reply
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