One of the favourites to win a medal at 2016 Olympics, Vinesh Phogat crashed out of the quadrennial event writhing in pain after she suffered a horrible knee injury.
But on Monday at Asian Games 2018, It was time for redemption as she clinched India’s first-ever women’s wrestling gold at the Games.
She defeated Japan’s Irie Yuki 6-2 in the final of the 50kg freestyle event to grab the yellow metal.
“I had targeted gold. I had 3-4 silvers at the Asia level. So I was determined to win a gold today. My body responded well. I had trained well and God was also kind to me. Everything fell in place for me today,” said Vinesh with moist eyes after winning gold in the 50kg freestyle category
Vinesh Phogat 1st Indian woman wrestler to win Asian Games gold medal
“Injuries are part of an athlete’s career. It is difficult both emotionally and physically. But I shrugged off everything to deliver some good medals recently. Someone has said an athlete becomes strong after injury and I feel I indeed have become stronger than before,” she added.
As fate would have it, Vinesh first took on China’s Yanan Sun against whom she lost that Rio Olympics bout. And Vinesh asserted that she always felt she is a stronger athlete than Sun and today was the day to prove it.
Asian Games 2018, Day 2: Wrap
“There was pressure but it was to prove that I am actually stronger than her. I wanted to prove this today because I lost thrice to her before. And I have done this today,” she said.
The 23-year old from Haryana is considered one of the most mentally strong wrestlers in India and she says it comes naturally to her. “I work on this but I am like this from childhood. I have always been rough and tough. I take risks in life and they pay off. I have self-belief. I feel there is nothing that I can’t do,” said Vinesh, who won a gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
Asked if she idolises any wrestler, Vinesh replied in the negative. She, however, said interactions with Sushil Kumar leaves a positive impact on her.
“I listen to Sushil ji a lot. Whatever he suggests I take note. In 2014 when I won bronze in Incheon he said, ‘don’t worry, whatever happens, happens for good. May be you have something bigger in store’. I always remember this message from him,” Vinesh said.