Having realised his dream of winning a medal at the Olympics, star grappler Yogeshwar Dutt says, he would now be able to "sleep soundly" after having "sleepless nights" since Beijing Olympics where he lost in quarterfinals in the last 10 seconds.
The 29-year-old from village Bhainswal Kalan in district Sonepat in Haryana said the absence of an Olympic medal from his cabinet gave him sleepless nights over the years and he could now atleast afford to relax a bit.
"For the last four years, I used to wake-up with the dream of winning a medal at the Olympics and I am thankful that God has been kind to me this time around. Atleast, I can now enjoy a sound sleep," Yogeshwar told PTI at his residence with a dazzle in his eyes.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist was ousted from the Beijing Olympics in the dying moments of his quarterfinal bout against Kenichi Yumoto of Japan and his fears almost came true this time around as he lost to Russia's Besik Kudukhov in the pre-quarterfinal before coming back strongly in the repechage round to clinch a bronze.
"The loss to Kudukhov was very disturbing. I had put a lot of hardwork to reach the Olympics this time and did not want to return empty handed. But I knew the Russian can make it to the finals and I started gearing up for the repechage without wasting much of a time thinking about the loss," said Yogeshwar as his phone continuously buzzed with the congratulatory calls.
Yogeshawar got better off Puerto Rico's Franklin Gomez Matos 3-0 in the first bout of the repechage round before overcoming Masoud Esmaeilpoorjouybari of Iran 3-1 in the next.
He then defeated Jong Myong Ri of North Korea 3-1 to bag the elusive medal.
Yogeshawar, meanwhile, conceded that there was a lot of pressure on him particularly after losing the pre-quarterfinal. "I can't deny that. The occasion was huge and I didn't want to lose this time. But the good thing is that I generally tend to to well under pressure," he said.
Asked how he managed to make a come back against strong opponents from Iran and North Korea after losing the first period, Yogeshawar said,"You will find that if the game goes to the third round, invariably I finish on the winning side."
"I was cautious to start with and did not want to concede an early point to my opponents, so tried to take the first period to the toss, if I failed to win the first session then I fought with aggression to clinch the next two."
As he finished the London Games with a bronze, his dear friend and fellow wrestler Sushil Kumar won a historic silver on the concluding day of the Games to make the joy double.
Asked whether he felt a bit left out even after winning a medal as Sushil hogged all the limelight with second successive podium finish, the ever-so modes wrestler replied in negative.
"He is a dear friend and it was good to see him make the history at London. I was hoping that he would finish with a gold but unfortunately he was extremely dehydrated before the finals and could not give his 100 per cent.
"Sushil finished with a bronze in the Beijing but I missed the opportunity. Although I was very happy for him, being a human it was a bit disappointing that I couldn't get country a medal.
"However, this time we both finished on the podium, and that is great for the game. There is no such feeling of being left out. The whole country has prayed for my success and I am really thankful to all of them," Yogeshwar said.
The wrestler had earlier said that had he won a medal at the Beijing Games he would have quit the game.
When asked about his plans after a successful trip to London, Yogeshwar said, "Now the focus shifts to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland and the Asian Games in Incheon and if all goes well, I will be eying for a gold at the Rio Olympics."
Yogeshwar, however, rued the lack of proper support staff at the Olympics.
"Wrestling is a very physical sport and you need to have a physio along with you all the time. It becomes even more necessary when you know that you have to fight continuously in three to four bouts. These things should be taken care off," he said.
When asked about the performance of the youngsters at the Olympics and how does he see the future generation of wrestlers cropping up, Yogeshwar said, "Both Narsingh (Pancham Yadav) and Amit (Kumar) are very talented. With a bit of experience, they can be the medal prospects for the country at the next Olympics."
"The upcoming wrestlers are also very good so the future augurs well, but at the same time the attention must be paid on the requirements of these budding athletes. They need both the financial as well as physical support more than we do," he said.