Wrestling, live

You might have thought the song was more suited to London's earphoned, baggy-trousered populace or to happily buzzed dancers in any of its nightclubs. But American DJ duo Duck Sauce's radio hit, with its signature riff, "Barbra Streisand... woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo", will forever be associated with muscled men at the Olympic Games, striding into the arena, all lethal intent.

In the absence of the national anthem that never got played at London 2012, since no Indian won a gold, that almost wordless ditty was the soundtrack for any Indian at the Games last summer. It was played after Yogeshwar Dutt won a bronze in a stunning victory. Yogeshwar had come through in the "repechage"; he had lost his first round but benefited from his rival making it to the finals. Indian scribes had already learnt about the French caveat four years ago, when Sushil Kumar won his bronze. They settled down to watch three back-to-back bouts that lasted 70 minutes. The excitement reached a crescendo when Yogeshwar effected a skilful leg-hold series, flipping his North Korean opponent over the mat several times, to rack up six straight points. Medals had been won through blood, sweat and tears before. This win oozed elegance. The moment took one's breath away. Even now, it floods back every time they chant "Barbra Streisand".

A golf-ball sized swelling sat on Yogeshwar's brow, and the Americans, Russians, Turks and Iranians — not to mention the vanquished North Koreans — rose in unison to applaud an Indian win. Though it would be overshadowed the very next day by Sushil Kumar's silver, those who were present will talk about the bout for years to come. In that single moment, wrestling became intrinsic to my Olympics experience. Yet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insists that wrestling had poor viewership ratings and deserves to be ousted from the greatest sporting show.

... contd.

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