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75 years of independence: Iconic moments from Indian sports – Sushil Kumar’s Olympic bronze medal at 2008 Beijing Games

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging greatest sporting achievements by Indian athletes.

Wrestler Sushil Kumar’s Olympic bronze medal (66 kg category) at the 2008 Beijing Gamess

Sushil Kumar won the bronze medal in the 66 kg division of the Olympics after defeating Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan. This victory was significant for both Sushil Kumar and India as it was the nation’s first wrestling medal since K. D. Jadhav’s achievement in Helsinki in 1952.

Sushil was moved up to the 66 kg division, but his chances of winning a gold medal were dashed when he fell to eventual silver medalist Andriy Stadnik of Ukraine.

However, as he entered the repechage rounds, Kumar received a lifeline. He defeated American Doug Schwab (4-1, 0-1, 3-2) and Belarusian Albert Batyrov (1-0, 0-4, 7-0) en route to his bronze medal.

‘The third matchup in the repechage versus Leonid Spiridonov (of Kazakhstan) was the most difficult. I had previously defeated him, so I felt confident. He appeared to be ahead and on the verge of victory at one point. He had a firm hold on my leg, and if he had been able to pull me down, he would have won a medal for it. However, I was only able to win one technical point in the closing seconds,’ the wrestler claimed that it was almost like someone snatched his medal.

‘It was unbelievable. I have seen the national flag go up at various international competitions, but this time it was very, very special. I was so happy… I knew I had achieved something that would make my countrymen very proud. But I did not know the magnitude of it,’ added Kumar after the win.

Assassination of wrestler Sagar Dhankar, 27, was brought against Kumar last year, and he is currently being held in Tihar Jail.


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