Upbeat Vinesh craves for Olympic glory after record show at Worlds

Within the first minute of her bronze medal play-off, Vinesh hurt her right knee. Despite the injury, she dominated the bout earning points in counter-attacks.

Published: 16th September 2022 12:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2022 02:15 AM   |  A+A-

Vinesh Phogat with women's wrestling team head coach Jitendra Yadav in Belgrade. (Photo | Express)

Vinesh Phogat with women's wrestling team head coach Jitendra Yadav in Belgrade. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

Ever since her senior debut in 2013, life has been all but a smooth ride for wrestler Vinesh Phogat. In the last nine years, she has experienced massive highs and extreme lows. She suffered heartache at the Olympics twice and was even written off on a couple of occasions. Constantly under the scanner, she also has to come out in the open and reveal her struggles with depression post the shock loss at the Tokyo Games last year.

But every time the Haryana wrestler was pulled down, she silenced her critics and detractors with memorable wins on the mat. And Wednesday was no different in Belgrade, Serbia. Having lost 0-7 to Mongolia's Khulan Batkhuyag the previous day in the qualification round of the World Championships, Vinesh was down but not out. She came out with all guns blazing in the repechage round to beat Zhuldyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan 4-0 by fall.

Her next opponent, Leyla Gurbanova from Azerbaijan, forfeited the bout due to injury giving Vinesh a smooth passage to the bronze medal play-off where she outclassed Emma Jonna Denise Malmgren of Sweden 8-0 to become the first woman wrestler from the country to bag two Worlds medals.

Expectedly, the podium finish was a big relief for Vinesh. "Something is better than nothing. Events like the Olympics and Worlds are altogether different. You might have beaten wrestlers in other events but when you face them at the Worlds and Games, the challenges are different. Here also there were wrestlers, whom I had overcome in the past but they finished ahead of me. It all boils down to how you shape up on that particular day, especially after weigh-in. How you feel on that day is very important and overall, luck plays an important role," Vinesh, the 2019 Worlds bronze medallist, told this daily from Serbia.

This was Vinesh's fifth appearance at the Worlds with bronze being her best result (2019 and 2022). Those two medals are huge but given her undeniable talent, she has punched below her weight so far. The narrative at the Olympics is the same. Despite entering as one of the favourites at the quadrennial event, she has fallen short so far.

"I always worked hard for the Games but unfortunately couldn't get the desired results. After the 2016 Rio Games where I sustained a knee injury and was stretchered out, another disappointing result followed at the Tokyo Olympics. The build-up to the Tokyo event didn't help either as I contracted Covid and it affected everything including preparations and diet. I hope this time in Paris, I can do what I have been aiming for years."

The three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist also changed her weight category (shifted from 50kg to 53kg) ahead of the 2020 Games. It took her a while before adjusting to the new weight division. Life can aptly be divided into two halves for her ever since she competed in her new weight category in Tokyo.

"When I changed the weight category, the pressure was not there as I was new in the division. Wrestlers in my group were not aware of my style. But as I settled in here, everybody knows how I play and my strengths and weaknesses. These all factors make it completely different from when I started in the new division," she said.

All the preparations and training regime though didn't translate into an Olympic medal but Vinesh believes the hard work she had put in then has been helping her even today. "All those efforts hold you in good stead for a long time. Anyways, you cannot prepare for the whole year in the same way. You tend to change your training regime from time to time. You also start picking and choosing events. I have learnt that from my experience. Earlier, I used to go all out for every event but now I preserve my energy for big-ticket events."

Within the first minute of her bronze medal play-off, Vinesh hurt her right knee. Despite the injury, she dominated the bout earning points in counter-attacks. "I heard the sound when she attacked my right leg. It's swollen but I just hope it's not as serious as it was in Rio. Once I return home, I will consult with the doctors," she signed off.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp