India's top woman wrestler Vinesh Phogat on friday said she has tested positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic. Selected for this year's Khel Ratna award, the Asian and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, had been training at her village in Sonepat with coach Om Prakash.
"Yes, I have tested positive for COVID-19 when my sample was taken in Sonepat before the dress rehearsal for the awards ceremony," Vinesh told PTI. "I will recover soon, God willing. I am in isolation at home. I have not shown any symptoms till now," she added, appearing cheerful.
The 26-year-old, who is the only Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, will skip Saturday's virtual ceremony for the National Sports Awards distribution. She is one among five athletes chosen for the country's highest sporting honour this year. Vinesh was one of the first wrestlers to raise concerns about health safety when the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) planned to resume the national camp in Lucknow from September 1.
With her personal coach Woller Akos communicating the training plans every week, she had been trying to implement them by training with Om Prakash, a very senior and trusted coach. She had asked for exemption from the camp and after that Divya Kakran and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik had also expressed apprehensions. Eventually, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the WFI decided to postpone the camp again.
The men's camp is scheduled to start at SAI Centre in Sonepat from September 1. Country's top wrestlers in six Olympic weight categories, including Bajrang Punia, are participating in the camp. Bajrang was bullish about the men's camp, saying it should not be cancelled now despite Vinesh testing positive for the virus.
The World Championship medallist said some risks are ought to be taken provided India wants to prepare well for the Tokyo Olympics. "Many major wrestling nations have begun the camps, be it Russia, USA or Georgia. We have to do something and take some risk. The World Championship in December is not important but Olympics is," Bajrang told PTI.
"So many are yet to qualify for Olympics. Camp is important for us. We have been told that 48 staffers at SAI centre have tested and they all have retrurned neagtive test. We all will be tested and put in quarantine till test reports come. We will have to follow the rules. Outside it's more risky and inside the sports complex it is safer. The government and WFI is doing it (camnp) for us. We just have to be disciplined," he said.
Bajrang wished Vinesh well. "Anyone can get infected. I pray for Vinesh that she recovers quick. She a big hope for us at Olympics. I also congratulate her for Khel Ratna, she deserves. She can receive it later now that she can't attend the ceremony," the world top wrestler in 65kg