Beijing: 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 here today.
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 here.