Q How is the rehab going on for your knee injury, which forced you to miss the 2015 World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas?
I’m recuperating and have started training. Obviously missing the 2015 World Wrestling Championship was hugely disappointing for me as there were Olympic berths up for grabs.
Q You have won medals at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Wrestling Championship but you are yet to win a medal at the 2015 World Wrestling Championship.
I played in the 2010 and 2015 World Wrestling Championship but lost early. I missed the 2013 World Wrestling Championships owing to a knee injury and again I missed the 2015 World Wrestling Championship on injury grounds.
Q You have battled with a plethora of injuries over the years. Does it get frustrating at times?
It does get frustrating to miss big tournaments because of injuries. I missed the 2010 Asian Games because of a back injury, which kept me out of action for six months. I missed the 2013 and 2015 World Wrestling Championships owing to injuries. I have been troubled my injuries and now I’m wary about it.
Q Talking of the 2015 World Wrestling Championship, much was expected from our men grapplers, but we ended up with only a bronze from Narsingh Yadav.
Narsingh Yadav performed really well to win a bronze medal as winning a medal in the World Wrestling Championship is tough. Wrestling is a sport, where a lot of decisions are very close and decided in the final seconds of the bout. The likes of Amit Kumar and Bajrang Punia were unlucky not to be among the medals and with a little bit of luck we could have returned home with three medals instead of one from the World Wrestling Championship.
Q There are three Olympic qualifications tournaments lined up next year. How optimistic are you of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics?
I’m focusing on qualifying from the Olympic qualification tournament to be held in March. The two other Olympic qualification tournaments will be held in April and June. I want to qualify from the first qualifying tourney so that I get adequate time to prepare for the Rio Olympics.
Q The exploits of Sushil Kumar and yours have lifted Indian wrestling in terms of popularity. Do you think the buzz is only in Haryana or has spread to all parts of the country?
Haryana has a strong wrestling culture coupled with robust infrastructure and that is why we keep churning out new talents. It hardly means that talents are not springing up from other parts of the country. Wrestling is getting popular across the country for sure.
Q How do you think the Pro Wrestling League will help Indian wrestling?
The PWL will enable junior grapplers to obtain vital exposure against the international talents. Youngsters watching live television action will be encouraged to pick up the sport as they will be convinced that they can have a future in wrestling.
Q The question that keeps popping up every now and then – will Yogeshwar Dutt get married?
My mother keeps telling me about it and I will think of it after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Q The 2016 Rio Olympics will be your fourth Olympics. How would you assess your wrestling future?
I’m pretty sure 2016 Olympics will be my last Olympic as I don’t see myself playing in the 2020 Olympics. It all depends on what shape I’m in. I will like to play competitive wrestling till 2018 and play in the 2018 Asian Games and 2018 Commonwealth Games as well as the World Wrestling Championship. I’m keen to wrap up my Olympic journey with a gold medal.