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Rio 2016: Indian wrestler Babita Kumari recovering from Zika scare

Wrestler Babita Kumari was feared to have caught the Zika virus
Modified 15 Aug 2016, 09:37 IST

News of Indian wrestler Babita Kumari’s high fever caused a Zika scare among the Indian contingent. 

The women’s 53 kg freestyle wrestler had caught a very high fever and developed body aches which led many to suspect that she had caught the disease borne by the Zika virus in mosquitoes. However, she was attended to immediately and is now on the path to recovery. 

The 2014 Commonwealth Games gold winner is the third and final entry in the women’s wrestling team representing India at the Rio Olympics. She qualified in a stroke of luck after Sumiya Erdenechimeg of Mongolia, who beat her in the Asian qualifying rounds, tested positive in a dope test. 

She is in Rio with her cousin Vinesh Phogat who is a 48 kg category wrestler and Sakshi Malik who represents India in the 58 kg. 

Babita has reportedly recovered enough to have started training once again. Wrestling Federation of India’s assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said to PTI,”Babita developed fever but now she is fine and has also started training.”

With many athletes opting out of the Rio games due to the threat of the Zika – which affects mainly women and puts pregnant women or those looking to start a family at considerable risk – the disease has cast a shadow over the Olympics, affecting tourism the most. However, till now, there have been no outbreaks of Zika in any of the 11,000 visiting athletes, coaches and officials.

An inspiring figure, Babita Kumari’s prowess as a grappler has been on the rise since 2012. Her recovery will renew India’s medal hopes at Rio, where India has come closest to winning medals in new categories but remains without one, still.

The Zika threat has been pushing athletes to extreme measures. While star golfers like Rory McIllroy dropped out early on, the USA women’s football team goalkeeper Hope Solo courted controversy when she uploaded a photograph on Twitter holding insect repellant and appearing in what seemed to be a beekeeper’s mask. Offended Brazilians retaliated by shouting ‘Zika, Zika’ each time she kicked or held the ball in her first match against New Zealand.

Published 15 Aug 2016, 09:34 IST
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