I am on the right track before the Tokyo Olympics: Vinesh Phogat
Speaking at a virtual media interaction held by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Vinesh shed light on her recent performances, Tokyo preparations, and the debacle at the Rio Olympics.
Vinesh Phogat is seen as one of India's brightest medal hopes at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The grappler who competes in the Women's 53kg weight division has been in terrific touch in recent times, even clinching her first-ever gold medal at the Asian Wrestling Championship last week.
Vinesh was inducted into the Target Olympic Podium Scheme in 2015 and the total amount she has been supported with in the current Olympic cycle is INR. 87 lakh. This is excluding the total Annual Competition and Training (ATC) support of INR. 51 crore sanctioned by the Sports Ministry to the Wrestling Federation of India for the financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Speaking at a virtual media interaction held by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Vinesh shed light on her recent performances, Tokyo preparations, and the debacle at the Rio Olympics. Excerpts:
On her recent performances
We went into the Asian Championships thinking that we would face the likes of China and Japan, but they pulled out of the event, unfortunately. That said, it was not easy by any means. I still have to work a lot on my game and there is a lot to improve on, but there is a feeling that I am on the right track before the Tokyo Olympics. I am still not at my peak; I am only at 85% of my abilities. I want to hit my peak during the Olympics and not fizzle out before that.
On her Tokyo preparations
I am slowly getting into my groove before the Olympics. The first event I played at Kyiv in January, I was rusty and there was a lack of co-ordination between my body and mind. I felt a lot better during the second tournament in Rome and during the Asian Championships, I felt that I was taking some extra time to recover – so working on that by adjusting my diet.
Secondly, I am not attacking as much as I should while playing. We are working on that as well, trying to improve my chain attacking skills.
On her mental preparations
The Rio debacle helped me become strong mentally. It was one of the lowest points of my career, there was a lot of negativity from within. But, I was able to come out of it and in hindsight, it has helped me become mentally strong. Yes, I was not able to win a medal at Rio but that would not affect my performance in Tokyo one bit. I now have the experience of playing one Olympics, I know what to expect, how to prepare, and how to conduct myself. So, it is rather a plus point me.
A lot has happened since then, the Tokyo Olympics got postponed, I was down with covid-19 and I was able to pull through all this. All these setbacks helped me become stronger and I feel I would enter Tokyo as a much stronger athlete mentally.
On India's chances at Tokyo
The x-factor of the current Indian wrestling contingent is that they are fearless. They want to win at any cost, winning is not an option but a necessity. This is the same for everyone – from the newcomers to the more experienced ones, they are all confident of doing well. So, it feels as if we have a good chance of winning some medals at the Olympics.