New Delhi: On Sunday, wrestler Sushil Kumar etched his name in sporting history by becoming the first Indian to win two Olympic medals. The 29-year-old from Haryana, who won a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games, lost to Japan's Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu 3-1 in the final of the Men's 66kg freestyle wrestling event to claim silver.
Sushil, who tasted his first success when he won the gold medal at the World Cadet Games in 1998, became a household name in the country following his stupendous show at the 2008 Beijing Games where he became only the second Indian to win an Olympic wrestling bronze after KD Jadhav in Helsinki in 1952.
In Beijing, Sushil entered in the 66kg category. He lost to Andriy Stadnik from Ukraine in the first round, leaving his medal hopes hinging on the repechage. Sushil defeated American Doug Schwab in the first repechage round and Belarusian Albert Batyrov in the second repechage round, before beating Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan to win the bronze.
Sushil’s reputation was further enhanced when he became the first Indian to win gold at the World Championships by defeating Russia’s Alan Gorgaev in Moscow in 2010. He followed up with gold medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and was subsequently awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna prize by the government for his outstanding achievements in sport.
The 5-ft-5-in grappler, who could barely manage the finances to prolong his wrestling career at an early age, has now become India’s greatest Olympian.