History was created in Beijing when in the 112 years of Olympic history, India were guaranteed of three medals in a single Olympics as Indian pugilist Vijender Kumar beat Ecuadorian Carlos Gangora 9-4 to secure a bronze for India. After the disappointment over the other two Indian boxers Akhil Kumar and Jitendra Kumar who faltered at the last hurdle failing to get India a medal, it was left to Vijender Kumar to salvage some pride.
His victory against the Ecuadorian has come on a special day for Indian sports. In our sporting history, this day will go down as the most cherished, for never before has India won two medals in the same day. Sushil Kumar made the impossible possible by winning a bronze earlier today in the freestyle 66 kg wrestling.
This is India’s best performance in the Olympics after the 1900 Paris and the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where India had won two medals apiece. In the 1900 Paris Olympics it was athlete Norman Pritchard who had won two silver medals in the 200 metres and the 200 metres hurdles. In the 1952 Olympics, it was the hockey team which was victorious in winning gold and the wrestler KD Jadhav who had bagged a bronze. Since then, India have been the biggest underperformers in Olympics with hockey being the only event where India had any chances of competing with the world’s best. Ironically, in the Beijing Olympics, the Indian hockey team failed to qualify.
Vijender stood out as he played with the coolest head. In boxing, it is not just all out attack that is going to work in your favour but constant defence. Vijender did just that as he defended very well and threw punches surreptitiously and on the counter but his defense was impeccable. His one inch advantage of height worked in his favour as he had a longer reach as compared to his counterpart. It would not be wrong to say that it was a one sided bout though Vijender Kumar was being touted as the clear favourite through out the bout. With his win, an entire nation of a billion plus people erupted in joy to welcome the third medal at Beijing.
The other medal winner, Sushil Kumar had earlier beaten the wrestler from USA before the bronze medal play off against the Kazakhstan wrestler. In his second repecharge round, he beat the European Champion from Belarus. Sushil Kumar’s win came as a surprise as not much had been reported about him. This perhaps goes on to show how the real achievers often go unnoticed unless a big opportunity like the Olympics comes up. He has come from absolutely no where and pulled this off. It is a day for India to be proud of and a great day for Indian wrestling. The 1952 medal was again unexpected and had brought the attention of the world to India. And Sushil Kumar’s feat has certainly brought Indian wrestling to the forefront. Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt had very narrowly missed on the bronze in the dying seconds of the bout but Sushil Kumar went one step ahead and got the coveted medal. There was perhaps no hype and attention given to the wrestlers when the Indian contingent had taken off. It is just not the Olympic medal, this is a great moment in the history of Indian sports and we can see sports taking centrestage in the years to come.
Let us hope that this Olympics marks a new dawn in Indian sports. It symbolizes the achievement of the common man, the individual who has gone on to make the nation proud through sheer hard work and grit. All the winners were relatively unknown in the world circuit before these Olympics but managed to carve their way into history by their grit, determination and focus. Whatever the next few days may bring for us in Beijing, this is the best performance ever by the Indian contingent. And these three medals will be cherished for ever. And millions of viewers will be glued to their TV sets praying for Vijender when he steps in to the ring for his semi final bout. Who knows we may have another Gold in the making.