In 2019, the star wrestler from the famous Phogat family, who is one of India’s biggest medal hopefuls at the 2020 Tokyo Games, used her strength and steady athletics to take down World No 1 Sarah Ann Hildebrandt. Before the bronze from the World Wrestling Championships, she has already assured herself of an Olympic berth and came out a victor.
- Vinesh Phogat won her maiden World Championships medal on Wednesday.
- Vinesh sealed India’s Tokyo Olympics quota place in women’s 53 kg event.
- I hope what I left incomplete in Rio, I will be taking in Tokyo: Vinesh Phogat.
Changed tactics suggested by coaches ensured her win
“Coaches were suggesting something else but I felt something different on the mat and changed tactics accordingly. I felt she was getting in, but because I was not conceding points, it was exhausting her,” Vinesh told PTI in an interview after defeating Sarah.
“So, I thought let’s lure her into leg attacks more and stay solid in defence to completely wear her out. I let her come in but held her off. It worked for me. I knew how much strength she had compared to mine,” she said. “Even if she had scored a few points, she would have got tired because she would have used all her power,” Vinesh added.
Here are some jaw-dropping moments of Vinesh Phogat:
Vinesh Phogat becomes first Indian — man or woman — wrestler to book spot at Olympics 2020
Going to Tokyo Olympics 2020
Vinesh has only one steady target now! She wants an Olympics medal. She sealed an Olympic berth in her 53kg weight category of the World Wrestling Championships this week.
Vinesh Phogat is going to Tokyo! pic.twitter.com/rOi0ma49El
— Vinay Siwach (@siwachvinay) September 18, 2019
“It’s a relief because now I have a lot of time to prepare for the Olympics. And it’s a bronze only. I want to convert it to gold and also win the Olympic medal,” Vinesh Phogat said after her bouts.
“I have won my quota for 53 kg for my country. I hope what I left incomplete in Rio, I will be taking in Tokyo. I am doing my best to win gold in Tokyo.”
In 2016, Vinesh (then aged 21) was one of the favourites to win a medal for India at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But the youngest from a family of distinguished women wrestlers had met with a life-threatening knee injury which forced her tournament to an end in the quarterfinals. After rigorous training, she came back badass and knocked down opponents.
Wins the missing world championships medal
In the bronze medal match at the World Wrestling Championships, Vinesh knocked down her opponent Maria Prevolaraki to win the first medal in the on-going tournament for India. Speaking after her successful bout, Vinesh said that she is pleased with the way she trained her mind to overcome a few negative thoughts. She was initially concerned about switching her weight category (from 50kg to 53kg) but all well that ends well.
“I used to think how will I beat a 53kg wrestler like Sofia Mattsson, who is so strong. But I changed the mind-set and beat her. So I am moving in the right direction,” she concluded.
India’s gold medallist in the Asiad and Commonwealth Games has been competing in the 48 kg category since her senior international debut.
Vinesh is only the fifth Indian woman wrestler to win a Worlds medal after Alka Tomar (2006), Geeta Phogat (2012), Babita Phogat (2012) and Pooja Dhanda (2018).
Third successive gold at Poland Open
In August this year, grappler Vinesh Phogat bagged her third consecutive gold in women’s 53kg category after winning the Poland Open wrestling tournament in Warsaw.
“The biggest positives from wrestling against strong opponents are it forces me out of my comfort zone, makes me push my limits, and teaches important lessons! Happy with my performance at the #PolandOpen. Excited by this start as a 53 kg wrestler, now onwards and upwards,” the 24-year-old Vinesh, tweeted after the game.
The biggest positives from wrestling against strong opponents are it forces me out of my comfort zone, makes me push my limits, and teaches important lessons! Happy with my performance at the #PolandOpen 🥇Excited by this start as a 53 kg wrestler, now onwards and upwards 🇮🇳💪🙌 pic.twitter.com/0rFVrNfvnk
— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) August 4, 2019
The star wrestler is the first Indian ever – man or woman – to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards
Nominated for Laureus World Sports Awards
The star wrestler became the first Indian to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Award. Vinesh has been nominated in “Laureus World Sporting Comeback” category for the year 2019.
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) January 17, 2019
Historic #AsianGames2018 Gold
The year 2018 too was the young wrestler’s year. She clinched the gold medal in the 50 kg freestyle at the Asian Games in Jakarta and become the first Indian woman wrestler ever to do so.
Vinesh became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal in the Asian Games 2018
— Doordarshan Sports (@ddsportschannel) August 20, 2018
Avenging a heart-breaking loss at the Olympics two years ago, she also won gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, silver in the 2018 Asian Championships in Bishkek.
Another gold in Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, 2018
Vinesh also won gold medals in Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Women’s 50kg freestyle last year.
Vinesh became the first Indian woman to win two wrestling gold medals at the Games. She won gold in the 48 kg category in Glasgow four years ago
— SheThePeople (@SheThePeople) April 14, 2018
We’re proud of you Vinesh!
Picture credit: Wrestlingtv/Facebook