Decades ago, a champion pledged that he would make his daughters succeed no matter what. He never treated them any different than he would treat a son, even when the entire village made fun of him and his younger brother's efforts. Now, years later, his younger niece might bring home what even his own daughters couldn't - an elusive Olympic gold medal.
Vinesh Phogat may not be as popular as her famous cousins Geeta and Babita. However, when it comes to tenacity, she has certainly been more stubborn than her two elder cousins.
Rio Olympics - When the phoenix rose from the ashes
5 years ago, when Commonwealth champion Vinesh Phogat stepped into the arena at the Rio Olympics, everyone was looking forward to watching her. She was one of the top bets for a gold medal. She was even cruising towards one. However, a foul move from Chinese wrestler Sun Yanan not only injured her knee but also threatened her career. For a moment, it looked as if Vinesh's career was almost destroyed by an evil move.
However, like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, Vinesh rose from that injury. Not only did she bounce back in style, but also gave a fitting reply to her opponents. Her tenacity also gave her a nomination at the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2019.
Jakarta Asian Games - Rise of the Lioness
However, it was at the Jakarta Asian Games that we witnessed the rise of the lioness Vinesh Phogat. She created history as she became India's first female wrestler to win a gold medal at this event. She defeated Yuki Irie of Japan to win the gold medal.
Vinesh further brought glory to the Phogat household when she won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships. Through this medal, she secured a direct ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, a first for any Indian female wrestler.
Can Vinesh bring home Olympic gold?
Now the main question remains - can Vinesh Phogat bring Olympic glory to the Phogat household? Also, can Vinesh Phogat bring home the elusive Olympic gold medal?
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While Vinesh is more than capable of bringing home a historic gold medal, the only possible obstacle is the Japanese challenge. Especially in the form of Mayu Mukaida, the 53kg world champion, against whom Vinesh has competed thrice and lost every time. If she manages to overcome this challenge, the sky is the limit for Vinesh Phogat.