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Wrestling

Can the Phogat family finally deliver an Olympic medal for India?

The Phogat family has delivered numerous laurels for India over the years and the only thing missing from their glorious trophy cabinet is an Olympic medal.

The Phogat sisters (Source: Free Press Journal)
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The Phogat sisters (Source: Free Press Journal)

By

Abhijit Nair

Updated: 2021-08-02T15:46:36+05:30

The Phogat household is one of the most well-known sports families in India, thanks to their wrestling prowess. The Phogats have produced some of the best wrestlers to have emerged out of India including the likes of Vinesh, Geeta, Babita, Ritu and Sangeeta.

While the Phogat family was always famous amongst the Indian sporting fans, they became a household name in India following the 2016 Bollywood blockbuster movie, Dangal.

The Aamir Khan starrer was one of the biggest hits of that year and gained worldwide recognition for beautifully capturing the journey of the eldest of all Phogat sisters, Geeta.

The Phogat family has delivered numerous laurels for India over the years. From medals at Asian and World Championships to medals at Asian and Commonwealth Games, they have brought it all home multiple times.

The only medal missing from their glorious trophy cabinet is an Olympic medal!

The Phogats have, so far, competed in two different editions of the Olympics. While Geeta Phogat became the first from the family to compete at the Olympics during the 2012 London Games, she was followed by Babita Kumari and Vinesh Phogat four years later at Rio de Janeiro.

But, none of the three has had anything worth remembering at the biggest sporting event.

Having been awarded a bye in the first round, Geeta Phogat lost both her first bout and then the repechage round during her disastrous appearance in London in 2012. Things did not get any better either for her sibling, Babita, who, much like Geeta, got a bye in the first round before being knocked after losing her debut bout at the Games.

But, things were different with their cousin Vinesh Phogat. Competing in the 48kg weight division at Rio de Janeiro, Vinesh won her first bout quite comfortably after being awarded a bye in the first round.

There was a sense that she will become the first Indian woman to return from the Olympics with a medal, and it was a matter of pride for the Phogats.

But things took an unexpected turn. Vinesh Phogat got injured during her quarterfinal against China's Sun Yanan and had to forfeit the bout. Things came crashing down for Vinesh and the Phogat family. It was a case of so close yet for far for them.

Besides, Sakshi Malik returned from Rio with a bronze medal and became the first Indian woman wrestler to bag an Olympic medal.

Yes, they must have lost the distinction of winning the first wrestling medal by a woman for India in the Olympics, but they still have a lot to offer.

Unlike 2016, the Phogat family will have only one representation at the Tokyo Olympics – Vinesh Phogat.

The 26-year-old will be eyeing redemption from what had transpired on the mat five years ago.

Yes, Vinesh is ranked number 1 in the world and will be the top seed at the Tokyo Olympics, but this edition of the Games has not been kind to the number 1s or the top seeds.

Vinesh Phogat has won all the tournaments she has competed in this year. She is expected to enter the Tokyo Olympics in the best shape, but can she put the ghosts of Rio behind and deliver the first Olympic medal from the Phogat family?


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