Twenty-one-year-old Vinesh Phogat is far ahead of the years she has lived so far. One who won the National title on her debut year in 2012, Vinesh grew up rapidly as a successful international wrestler because of her 'I can do anything' attitude. Now, at the threshold of her first Olympics, Vinesh does not want to let the people, who have high expectations from her, down in Rio.
With her quest for excellence, fearless approach, tall ambition and amazing pragmatism, Vinesh, a 48 kg wrestler from famous group of Phogat sisters of Haryana, presents the picture of a top class sportsperson in the making.
Seeking to make her mark like her elder cousins and World championship medallists Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, Vinesh wants to stand on the podium in Rio. “There is no pressure on me because my self-confidence is very high right from my childhood. When you always think about something and ultimately get to do that then you feel happy about it,” Vinesh told Sportstar in an interview.
“However, sometimes the expectation of people gives me a bit of scare. I feel whether they will feel disappointed if I don't get a medal. I love to see people have faith in me. That push tells me that people are with me in my journey.”
Nevertheless, her journey in the run-up to the Olympics was not a smooth one. She was reprimanded by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) >for being overweight in one of the qualifying events and came back with a lot more determination to book her berth in the Olympics.
“It was a bad moment. It was more difficult than losing a bout. I could not make eye contact with my opponents. But I am not afraid of making mistakes because I learn from them. You become sure of what you do the next time.”
Since her weight category will witness the dominance of Asian wrestlers, Vinesh, having won a Commonwealth Games gold medal, an Asian Games bronze and three Asian championship medals, is sure-footed in her approach. Yet, she is prepared for any eventuality.
“I am ready for any result. If I don't win a medal, then I learn something. But right now I don't have any negative feeling. Why can't I win a medal? Every wrestler is capable of winning a medal and I am one of them.”
Vinesh, who would be in the company of Babita in the Olympics, felt that the rising standard of women's wrestling would boost India's reputation. “Four years ago only one girl qualified and now it is three. [I] hope we qualify for all six women's weights in future. Sushil Kumar has made the country proud and we want to follow in his footsteps. The Japanese girls are recognised as the best in the world and we want to achieve their status,” she signed off.