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Indian wrestling has strong contenders who can beat anyone: Vinesh Phogat

Indian wrestling has strong contenders who can beat anyone: Vinesh Phogat

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Published: 22 Jan 2019 4:35 AM GMT
Among Indian wrestlers, the one star who has managed to grab the limelight as a result of continuous, consistent performances since her comeback from the injury at Rio 2016 is Vinesh Phogat. And speaking to PTI yesterday, the Asian Games gold medalist affirmed her faith in the direction that Indian wrestling is taking saying that the contingent has the capability to win multiple medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The interaction with PTI saw the grappler open up on a myriad of topics which included her training, life after marriage to Somvir Rathee and the overall perception that exists about her calling her "arrogant". Vinesh Phogat comes from a family that is famous for breaking stereotypes and it is no wonder that she continues the trend. She also spoke about a recent, historic landmark in her life wherein she became the first Indian sportsperson to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus Award. Here are a few exceprts from the interview.

On being perceived as stubborn, headstrong and arrogant.

“I am very stubborn, since childhood. If I feel something is right, even if that is wrong, I will be very stubborn about that and I make sure people agree with me even if I am wrong sometimes,” she laughed. But would she call it a virtue, to be steadfast even if wrong? If someone explains with love and proves that my thought process is wrong and I also start to realise that, then I concede and step back. Yes people say that (arrogant) but I know what’s inside me. And if it helps me on the mat, I don’t bother. It helps me on the mat. People say it’s over-confidence but for me it’s belief. I don’t get intimidated and your opponent also notices the body language. Some people work on it but for me it’s God gift.”

On her marriage to Somvir Rathee, their relationship and life after that

“People say that after marriage, we lose spark and fire but I want to break this myth. I want to take this fear out of girls that marriage is a barrier. I want to be an example, so I decided to marry early. Of course you need support of your partner. There are a few in our society who do not believe in (love) relationships (without marriage) so they will ask why don’t you get married and some will say why marry so early? Now Olympics is a major competition and I have all the support of Somvir. If Somvir was not there, Vinesh would not be what Vinesh is today. He is one person who has contributed to my success more than my family. The way he motivated me, no one did. I believe more in him than myself. He has videos of all my opponents in his phone. He knows them all, who attacks better, whose defense is solid. He devises strategies for me. He is more focussed on me than on himself. He has lot of belief in me."

On the Laureus Award nomination

"Honestly, I still don’t know what this nomination is about. I just know that my name has been put for voting. I had not even heard of Laureus. And if no Indian athlete has been nominated before, I can only be proud of it. It’s definitely huge for wrestling in India because it is still struggling for recognition."
Also read: Vinesh Phogat is the first Indian to be nominated for Laureus World Sports Award

On how far Indian wrestling has come

"Earlier people used to just look for participation or win a round at the Worlds but now medals are a possibility for all. I know these girls. After Sakshi’s bronze, girls are now targetting gold at Olympics. We have started becoming technically smart while earlier we just played a power game, it’s giving results. Four years back, there was not much respect for athletes but not anymore, it has gone up. Now it’s up to the wrestlers to benefit from the good system in place. They need to push their limits."

Her personal review of her performance post comeback and India's 2020 chances

"I have seen athletes struggling so badly after suffering injuries. Sometimes I get shocked to see what and how I have achieved this success. It’s nothing but God’s grace. It’s not just hard work because innumerable athletes do that. This is something which I don’t know. I beat even the formidable Japan wrestlers after injury, it’s God’s grace only. I feel India have 4-5 strong contenders, who can beat any wrestler in the world. I won’t take names but we can win 2-3 Olympic medals. The mindset has changed."
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