A return to form

Vinesh Phogat was named Sportwoman of the Year (Other Individual Sport) at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

Phogat is the first Indian athlete to be nominated for the Laureus World Sports Awards.   -  PTI

I feel extremely honoured to be awarded by Sportstar. The award coming from a 40-year-old publication just adds that value to it. I would really like to thank everyone involved and hope that I can continue to make them and the rest of this country proud,” said Vinesh Phogat, who had a successful comeback year in 2018, winning gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.

It was a fitting return to form for the wrestler from Bhiwani in Haryana, who suffered heartbreak at the 2016 Rio Olympics when she injured her knee in the quarterfinals. But 2018 was made sweeter by the fact that she married fellow wrestler Somvir Rathee in December, after getting engaged at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi’s after her triumphant return from the Jakarta Games.

“Being injured was mentally a very tough period for me. I was eager to compete but was restricted due to the injuries. I learned to never give up and always believe in oneself when one is down. Self control was an important lesson as well,” Phogat, who was named Sportwoman of the Year (Other Individual Sport) at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF, said about her return.

The wrestler was grateful for the support of her new husband. “Somvir has always been a strong personality behind me. His support and strength are endless. His positivity and confidence in me boost me to perform better. Yes. It is very much like one mind between us,” she said.

Phogat, the first Indian athlete to be nominated for the Laureus World Sports Awards, is now planning to take part in as many competitions as possible in preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “Of course, winning is the first priority, but if I don’t win, then I would like to learn from my mistakes. Even the smallest change can help improve my game a lot, she said, adding: “My weight category is quite competitive. It’s difficult for me as well to maintain my weight at 50kg. Japanese wrestler Yui Susaki and Maria Stadnik from Azerbaijan are tough competitors."