Latest News on Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling) Biography, Profile, Photos and Videos

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Here’s a quick look at how good has been Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat’s form leading into the Tokyo Olympics.

File image of Vinesh Phogat. AFP

Editor’s Note: For five years now, Indian athletes have been dreaming to make up for the disappointment of a two-medal haul in Rio. The span has been extraordinary, with COVID-19 having thrown their preparations – and the Olympics itself – off gear. However, in true Olympic spirit, the country’s finest sportspersons have battled form and uncertainty to put their best foot forward in what promises to be a Games like none other. In our latest series, we track the last two years’ performances of our athletes to give you a ready guide to their form leading into the biggest sporting spectacle of the world.

Firstpost.com takes a quick look at Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat and charts her journey towards securing Olympic qualification.

The last time wrestler Vinesh Phogat took part in the Olympics, she endured a horrific end to the Rio Games in 2016. Phogat was in fine form coming into the Games in Brazil, having won medals at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Asian Championships. A lot was expected from Vinesh, but it was never meant to be.

She reached the quarter-finals of the 48 kg category against China’s Sun Yanan, but, midway through the first period when Yanan was leading 2-1, Vinesh fell victim to a career-threatening knee injury which would force her to retire from the bout.

Phogat had claimed the first point of the quarter-final, with Yanan showcasing a passive intent. However, Yanan hit back with a single-leg takedown to grab two points. Moments later, Yanan pinned down Vinesh in an awkward position, and that was when Vinesh sustained pain in her knees and forfeited the bout.

She later underwent surgery for her knee injury, which was followed by rehabilitation under careful assessment from a team of experts in Bengaluru, before she returned to the mat five months later.

It was then in the 2017 Asian Wrestling Championships in May that Vinesh claimed silver in the 55 kg freestyle category. She lost 8-4 in the final to Sae Nanjo of Japan.

Just a year after that, Vinesh continued her consistent run with a flurry of gold medals, in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.

And in the 2019 Wrestling World Championships, just hours after sealing her place in the Tokyo Olympics, Vinesh claimed a bronze medal, defeating Maria Prevolaraki of Greece in the 53 kg freestyle bout. This was her first medal at the World Championships.

Her impressive and consistent achievements paved the way for her being presented with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2020, along with Rohit Sharma and Manika Batra. Back in 2016, she was conferred with the Arjuna award.

Sporting events across the globe were largely affected in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Phogat claimed gold in the Rome Ranking series in January that year, beating Ecuador’s Luisa Elizabeth Valverde in the 53 kg final bout.

Olympics lead-up

Now, leading up to the Olympics, Phogat continues to be in fine form, having clinched gold medals in the Asian World Championships in April and the Poland Open in June respectively this year. She beat Hsieh Meng-Hsuan of Chinese Taipei and Kristina Bereza of Ukraine in the two respective finals.

Earlier in March this year, Vinesh had even clinched consecutive gold medals in the Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial tournament and Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event.

Five years since that horrific exit, the 26-year-old Vinesh enters the Games in Tokyo as the top seed courtesy a fine form, hoping to put away her disappointment in the previous Games, and earn that elusive Olympic medal.

Click here to check out form guides for the rest of the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.



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