Vinesh Phogat, India’s Last Hope To Win Women’s Wrestling Gold Medal Out

Vinesh Phogat on WFI allegations
Who is Vinesh Phogat: Vinesh Phogat, who comes from the famous Phogat family, has gone down against Belarus’ Vanesa Kaladzinskaya in women’s freestyle 53kg wrestling event of Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. Phogat had earlier outsmartesd the Rio Olympics bronze-winner and six-time world medallist, Sweden’s Sofia Mattson, to reach the quarter-finals.

The 26-year-old Indian will now have to wait and hope that Vanesa Kaladzinskaya makes it to the final in order to have a shot at the bronze medal via repechage.

Sitting in her hometown in Balali, a village in Haryana’s Charkhi Dadri district, Phogat’s mother expressed happiness when her daughter moved to the quarter-final match. Premlata told ANI, “It feels great to see her win this match. She played well. I’m happy.”

Who is Vinesh Phogat?

Phogat had returned to the Tokyo Olympics determined to bury the disappointment from Rio. Back in 2016 (then aged 21), the star wrestler reached the quarter-finals but lost to China’s Sun Yanan. Sadly, the history repeated itself at 2020 Olympics event too. The youngest from a family of distinguished women wrestlers had met with a knee injury that forced her out of the tournament. She came back stronger and won the gold in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold at the Asiad. She was unbeatable at World Wrestling Championships 2019, which led her to qualify for the Olympics. Phogat now wants an Olympics medal.

She has won three medals across three tournaments this year and earned the tag of a fan favourite to bring an Olympics medal home.

The legendary, Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former wrestler himself, inspired Vinesh Phogat, his younger brother Rajpal’s daughter, to train in the sport after learning of the sizable prize money announced by the state of Haryana for its Olympians. He would scold her mother whenever she sought help from Vinesh for household chores. The budding wrestler’s father passed away when she was only eight. A couple of years later her mother, Premlata, was diagnosed with cancer.

Her uncle assisted and trained her to excel in her junior career. He had given Phogat’s mother strict instructions to let the daughters focus on wrestling only. “If I needed any help, he said I should call my son Harvinder rather than Vinesh or Priyanka,” Premlata told the Hindustan Times in August 2018.

Even Phogat had confessed that there was a lot of pressure on her before Geeta Phogat, the daughter of Mahavir Singh Phogat, won the Commonwealth Games 2010 Gold. She had said during an interview in 2014, “Village elders and even my grandmother used to say that no family will want their daughters-in-law to play such a sport. But now, we’re heroes.”

Proving everyone wrong, Phogat won the gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and then emerged victorious as the first Indian female wrestler to win an Asian Games gold in 2018. Ranked No 1 in the 53kg weight category, she is riding on confidence as one of the brightest medal prospects for the country at Tokyo Olympics 2020. Read more about her here.