Beijing: India’s fledgling Olympic campaign 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.
After Abhinav Bindra’s gold-winning feat during the first week of the sporting extravaganza, the 25-year-old Sushil Kumar shot into fame by winning a bronze medal in the wrestling arena while Vijender has put himself on course for a silver or gold medal on a historic day for Indian sports.
Sushil and Vijender’s heroics not only provided the late sparks to an otherwise dismal campaign but has created a record of sorts as India had never returned with three medals from the Olympics.
India had won two Olympic medals in the 1952 Helsinki Games when the hockey team had won the gold medal and wrestler K D Jadhav had won a bronze medal, a record which had stood for 56 long years.
While Sushil and Vijender did the country proud, there was some heartbreak for the Indians with another medal contender pugilist Jitender Kumar losing his quarter-final bout despite a valiant effort in the ring.
After days of disappointments, it turned out to be a day to cherish for the Indians as Sushil found his way to the record books by becoming only the second wrestler in India’s Olympic history to win a bronze medal in the men’s 66 kg freestyle category.