Confident grappler Vinesh Phogat eyes gold at Rio
New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Reigning Commonwealth Games champion grappler Vinesh Phogat has set her goal high -- nothing less than a gold at the upcoming Rio Olympics will quench her thirst.
Coming from a Haryanvi family of wrestlers, this youngster aspires to become a "sporting heroine" in the country, which she feels will inspire another generation of grapplers to take up the ancient sport.
The 21-year-old was beaming with confidence after returning from a training camp in Spain earlier this week.
"The target is nothing less than a gold at Rio. Like the other wrestlers, I also have two hands and legs, so why will I be intimidated?" she asked IANS rhetorically in an interview.
The training camp in Madrid, she said, was a success. "We got to fight with some of the experienced wrestlers. Also if you look at the weather conditions, it makes a difference," she said.
Vinesh, who was disqualified in the first attempt from the Olympic qualifying event held in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) for weighing 400 grams more than stipulated for the 48kg category event, acknowledged that it takes a lot to reduce.
"It is mentally and physically challenging to reduce weight. Further, it also increases the chance of picking up an injury which I don't want at this point of time," she said. Later she qualified to go to Rio de Janeiro.
Most Indian wrestlers start managing their weight usually three to seven days prior to the weigh-in day. In the run-up to the day, the wrestlers start dehydrating by reducing the intake of fluid and food.
Sweating out with the help of the sauna procedure, wearing rubber suit and aerobic training also help them maintain their weight.
But ask Vinesh about the pressure, and the younsgter says she is unfazed by the expectations.
"I don't want to take undue pressure before such an important tournament. I just want to go there and give my 100 percent on the mat."
Asked about her fiercest rivals, Vinesh said she expects more competition from Asia, but also quipped that she will also be among the toughest as she too hails from the same continent.
"Asian wrestlers are good and tough, but that also includes me, I am also from Asia and no less than anyone of them. There will be pressure on them as well," she said.
Vinesh is excited to have her cousin Babita Kumari accompanying her at the Olympics. Babita will represent India in the 53kg women's freestyle category.
"Babita knows my strengths and weaknesses and vice versa, it really helps us both as we compliment each other and discuss about our games. Moreover, having a homely environment abroad also helps to keep your focus," she said.
(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)