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Tokyo 2020

A look at Vinesh Phogat's opponents at Tokyo Olympics

While Phogat would be eager to put the demons of Rio behind and clinch a medal at Tokyo in the Women's 53kg weight division, it is by no means going to be easy.

Indian Wrestler Vinesh Phogat
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Vinesh Phogat

By

Abhijit Nair

Updated: 2021-07-20T10:38:20+05:30

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is now under 50 days away. Even though the fate of the Games hangs in the balance even now, athletes from across the globe are sweating it out in their respective sessions to be in the best shape possible ahead of the quadrennial event. As the Olympics near with each passing day, we bring you a new series of articles wherein we analyse the biggest challenges for India's medal hopes at Tokyo.

For the first article of this series, we take you through Vinesh Phogat's biggest challengers at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2020 Tokyo Games will be the second Olympics appearance for the 26-year-old Phogat. A grappler hailing from the state of Haryana, she had an unfortunate end to her campaign at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, where she had to be stretchered off the mat during the quarterfinal owing to a career-threatening injury.

While Phogat would be eager to put the demons of Rio behind and clinch a medal at Tokyo in the Women's 53kg weight division, it is by no means going to be easy.

Who are the main challengers for Vinesh Phogat?

Sofia Mattson

The 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist in the same weight division, Sofia Mattson, will enter Tokyo as one of the favourites to earn a podium finish. The 31-year-old from Sweden boasts of multiple World and European Championships medals.

Phogat had beaten Mattson in the very first round of the 2019 World Championships, but none of that would matter if the duo is to clash at Tokyo.

Pang Qianyu

The Chinese Pang Qianyu is a former Asian Champion and two-time World Championship bronze medallist. Qianyu and Phogat were expected to face-off in the recently concluded Asian Championships, but it did not happen as China pulled out of the tournament due to covid-19 related concerns. The Indian, though, have fond memories of fighting against Qianyu, most notably beating her in the bronze medal match of the 2019 Asian Championships.

Mayu Mukaida

Mayu Mukaida from Japan is a two-time World Champion and a Youth Olympic Champion. Besides, the 23-year-old has been an Achilles heel for Phogat for a long time.

The duo has faced off each other three times in the career, with each of the three bouts ending in a win for the Japanese. Mukaida, surely, will be the biggest threat for Phogat in her road to a podium finish in Tokyo.

Vanesa Kaladzinskaya

A 27-year-old grappler from Belarus, Vanesa Kaladzinskaya is a two time World and European Champion. Though the Belarusian will enter the Olympics as a medal contender, Phogat's recent win against her in the final of Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial in Kyiv should hold the Indian in good stead.

Olga Khoroshavsteva

A 26-year-old from Russia, Khoroshavsteva is a World Championships bronze medallist and the reigning European Champion. With the kind of form, she displayed during the recently concluded World Wrestling Qualifiers, beating her would undoubtedly be a big challenge for Phogat.


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