London: Wrestler Sushil Kumar today created history by becoming the first Indian to win back-to-back Olympic medals but the coveted gold medal eluded him as he lost the men’s freestyle 66 kg category final to his Japanese opponent rather tamely at the ExCel Arena here today.
The 29-year-old Sushil found the Japanese Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, a tough opponent as he carved out a 3-1 victory to shatter the his hopes of winning a gold medal.
With the addition of Sushil’s silver medal, India completed their engagements in the 30th edition of the Olympics with a record haul of six medals — two silver and four bronze — but the gold medal could not be won by any one.
In Beijing, India had won one gold and two bronze medals. Sushil, who was cheered by the flag-waving Indian spectators, was down with dehydration when he took the mat for the final and that had a bearing on his performance.
“I had a stomach problem just after the semi-final, because of the dehydration. I lost weight and was feeling a little weak. But we have got a silver medal and we will try for gold medal in the next Olympics,” Sushil said after the medal ceremony.
“I had said about 15 days ago that we will do well. It was a question of what will be the colour of medals. I am happy that Yogeshwar won a bronze and our performance will keep improving,” he said.
In the final, Sushil found the going tough against the japanese who just did not allow the Indian to grip him at all.
Sushil tried desperately to get a breakthroug but without much luck as the Japanese wrestled intelligently. The Japanse won the first round 1-0 and took the second round 3-1 during which he picked up Sushil on his shoulder and brought him down, effectively ending the Indian’s chance.
“It was bronze in Beijing, and now it’s a silver. So were are gradually going up and may be in the next Olympics, I will be able to win the gold medal,” Sushil said.
Sushil said he dedicated the silver medal to his coach Satpal, parents, friends and the entire support staff.
“When you see us fight, you see us alone. But there are a lot of people who work behind the scenes to keep us fit. They also work equally hard. Besides, it is the blessings of my countrymen which has brought me to this level,” he said.
On how he planned to celebrate the victory, he said,”First I will take some rest. I have been training hard for the last five or six months. So a little rest is needed,” he said.
Team Manager Raj Singh said Sushil was down with dehydration after his semi-final bout and had also hurt his shoulder.