Vinesh Phogat is one of India’s top wrestlers, who has brought home a number of medals from various competitions around the world.
Hailing from one of the traditional wrestling families from Haryana, Vinesh was introduced to wrestling from an early age by her uncle and former wrestler Mahavir Phogat. She, along with her cousins Geeta Phogat, Babita Kumari and Ritu Phogat were trained by Mahavir.
However, their early days in wrestling were not as smooth as expected. A large number of villagers were not in favour of the four girls being introduced to the sport, something that they felt was against the morals of their community.
However, Mahavir encouraged the four girls to go against the norms and build a successful wrestling career later in life, something that all of them have been able to do.
Vinesh Phogat first made a mark on the international scene when she was 19, as she clinched a bronze medal at the Asian Wrestling Championship in New Delhi in 2013 in the 51kg category. She followed that up by winning silver at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in the same year, in South Africa.
However, her breakthrough moment came in the following year at the Comonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Vinesh, who moved from the 51 kg to the 48 kg category, defeated home favourite Yanna Rattigan of England in the final, to clinch the gold medal.
Yet more medals were to follow after the CWG win, as Phogat made it all the way to the bronze medal bout at the 2014 Asian Games, where she faced Narangerel Eredenesukh of Mongolia by a massive 10-0 margin.
She carried on her fine form at the 2015 Asian Championships in Doha, where she clinched another silver medal, before winning the Olympic qualification tournament in Istanbul.
While her career seemed to be on a steep rise at this point, Vinesh suffered a huge setback in the following year at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Phogat, who was going strongly in the tournament, crashed out in the quarterfianls against Sun Yana of China due to a knee injury. Pictures of the young Indian wrestler holding her knee and crying profusely on the mat filled the media, as she was stretchered out.
However, she announced a strong comeback into wrestling, as she clinched a silver medal at the Asian WrestlingChampionship, in Kyrgyzstan in 2018.
This would serve as a great confidence boost to Vinesh, who is currently preparing for the Commonwealth and the Asian Games, set to be held in 2018.