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I will not rest till my unfulfilled dream from 2016 is achieved: Vinesh Phogat

The image of a sobbing Vinesh Phogat being stretched out of the arena in the Rio Olympics is still fresh in minds.

I will not rest till my unfulfilled dream from 2016 is achieved: Vinesh Phogat
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By

Sarah Waris

Updated: 2021-07-21T20:06:53+05:30
The men's selection trials on July 26 to pick wrestlers who would represent India at the World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan in September - also the first event offering quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - ended on an anti-climactic note, without cut-throat competition and high-quality action on display. For a nation that has long been knocking on the doors of the elite club of wrestling powerhouses, the men's trials proved to be a damp squib with only the 57kg category seeing a few tight games. However, national wrestling coach Kuldeep Malik had been certain that the women's competition would offer more competition, which was exactly the case on Sunday, as 37 wrestlers fought it out in six categories at the Sports Authority of India, Lucknow.

Vinesh refuses to take risks with the Rio memory still fresh in mind

The image of a sobbing Vinesh Phogat being stretched out of the arena in the Rio Olympics is still fresh in minds, and the 24-year old was eager to fight her bout in the 53kg weight category with minimum risks. Three years ago, Vinesh, who was touted as a medal hopeful, dislocated her right knee midway in the quarters after Chinese Sun Yanan had pinned her down in an awkward position. On Sunday, Vinesh, who was already in the final of the 53kg category with only three wrestlers in the fray in the trials, was eager to keep risks at bay and went into a shell after she had accumulated enough points against Pinki. At 9-0, her strategy changed as the last few seconds of the bout were all about denying points.
"I played tactfully in the final because I could not risk going after the points and getting injured. After I had taken a substantial lead, I quietened down, as I cannot afford to miss the World Championships," Vinesh told The Bridge.
However, that did not stop her from displaying brilliance in the first half of the bout, as she outwitted Pinki in the first three minutes. "I was looking to attack initially and get her in position. Pinki knows me quite well, hence I was looking to confuse her with my sudden moves." Vinesh Phogat agaisnt Pinki Vinesh, who changed her weight category from 50kg to 53 earlier this year, is still adapting but is hopeful that she will be ready once the World Championships begin. "I changed to 53kgs due to the rules. In 50kgs, you only needed to be fast, but in this category, you need to be both fast and strong."
When asked about the technical changes that she has made post her category change, the grappler says, "I have had to work on my lower body a lot. My upper body has great speed, but my lower body is relatively slower. Also, as strength is very important in the category, I ensure that my gym sessions are rigorous. I don't stop till I am exhausted and the weights literally fall off my hands. That is the only way you can get your arms to get stronger." Vinesh admits that playing opponents from China, USA and Japan, whom she has never played before as she was in a different weight category, in the World Championships will be a challenge, but she remains silently confident. "I will be going to Poland for a camp from August 1 so I can be ready for the World Championships that start from September 14. It is daunting and I am nervous, but I have always been a stubborn player. If I have set my goals on something, I will give it my all. I have an unfulfilled dream from 2016, and I will not rest till that is achieved."
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