The first Indian woman to win a gold medal in wrestling, Geeta Phogat says she lost her focus after staying away from wrestling due to a variety of reasons. A Bollywood movie made on her life, participation in an adventure reality show and prolonged injury kept her out of the ring for two years. However, with Asian Games round the corner, the star wrestler is determined to put her best foot forward.
“I think staying away from wrestling for two years with injury and the movie, I lost my focus. Now I am concentrating just on wrestling,” Geeta said
Her comments came during the launch of JSW’s Inspire Institute of Sports. The 29-year-old, who scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for Olympics in 2012, had last won a gold medal at the All India Police Championship on October 30.
Geeta was also embroiled in a controversy after her squad was axed from the national camp ahead of the Asian Games owing to disciplinary issues.
“My comeback on the mat hasn’t been good. I am training hard to get back into the team. No sport is easy, if you spend time away it will be difficult to make a comeback,” she said, Indian Express reported
When asked about Indian wrestlers’ training for the Asian Games campaign, Geeta said, “Women wrestlers got only two (medals) last time but their performance has been good. I observed them in the national camps. Vinesh, Sakshi, and Pooja, they seemed confident. This time they will get more medals.”
“The team has prepared well, both the women and men have performed well at recent tournaments. The confidence level of the team is also very high,” said confident Geeta who had also claimed a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Geeta is among a 14-member Indian wrestling contingent India is sending to Indonesia, including leading wrestlers like Commonwealth gold-medallist Vinesh Phogat and Olympic bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik.
High on confidence, Indian wrestlers are geared up to better their performance at Gold Coast, where all 12 grapplers returned home with medals. Talking about sister Vinesh, who has won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Grand Prix of Spain ahead of the Asian Games, Geeta stated, “Her confidence level is the highest among all wrestlers. She is very focused on training. She makes videos of herself training, analyses them, analyses her opponents. Recently in Spain, not only did she win, she beat her opponent 10-0.”
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Commenting on how Bollywood has affected the sports industry, she claimed, “The mindset has changed now. Everyone goes with the aim of winning a medal, they believe they can win. Earlier that wasn’t the case,” she said.
“We have regularly won medals at all tournaments and I think after ‘Dangal’, the craze for wrestling increased among girls. Then Sakshi’s medal definitely boosted the confidence,” the Olympian added.
After the release of the Aamir Khan-starrer, Bollywood film ‘Dangal’, Geeta became an role model for aspiring women wrestlers. It’s needless to say that the movie was just the right tonic to fuel the Phogat sisters’ ambitions.