Rio de Janeiro | Experienced wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, India’s last realistic medal hope on the concluding day of the Olympics, crashed out after losing his qualification bout as the country’s biggest-ever contingent bowed out of the Games with a paltry medal haul of two.
Dutt, bronze medal winner in the previous Games in London four years ago, failed to sign off his Olympic career with a podium finish, losing in the opening round to Mongolian Ganzorigiina Mandakhnaran whose quarterfinal defeat dashed the Indian’s hopes of a second career bronze through repechage.
The other contenders on day 15 were three male marathoners, two of whom managed to clock their personal best times.
The end of the marathon race also spelt the end of India’s campaign in this Brazilian city where they ended up with a disappointing medal tally of one silver (P V Sindhu in women’s singles in badminton) and one bronze (woman 58kg category wrestler Sakshi Malik).
In 2012 India had secured their highest medal tally from a single Games — six, without a gold — and there were pre-Games projections by the Sports Authority of India that the tally will be doubled here.
But all those were dashed to the ground and India were saved the blushes at the fag end of their campaign by two women who were never highlighted as medal hopes – Sindhu who got the first-ever silver in badminton after Saina Nehwal’s bronze in London and Sakshi who secured the first-ever medal in women’s wrestling.
Expectations were high from Yogeshwar after he was touted as a strong medal prospect. But he looked a pale shadow of his previous gritty self in the 0-3 loss to Mandakhnaran in the qualification round bout.
After his loss in the qualification, Yogeshwar’s only hope of making the medal round depended on his Mongolian opponent reaching the gold medal bout.