Star grappler Vinesh Phogat feels that the Indian wrestlers are better prepared for the Tokyo Olympics, compared to the last edition in Rio de Janeiro.
During a virtual media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Friday, Vinesh Phogat, however, didn’t open up much about India’s medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics. But she underlined the fact that Indian grapplers have developed a fearless attitude heading into the mega quadrennial event.
“This time I feel all wrestlers don’t have any fear of losing. They have a strong passion for winning. There is no fear. That is a plus point as it also gives them a great confidence,” Vinesh Phogat said.
At the Rio Olympics, Vinesh had to forfeit her quarterfinal bout due to a knee injury. But this time she has left no stone unturned in her quest to get a medal that eluded her in 2016.
The 26-year-old hasn't conceded a point en route to her three gold medals in 2021 – Asian Championships, Ukraine and Matteo Pellicone Memorial event so far. The highly motivated Vinesh is among six Indian wrestlers to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Ravi Kumar Dahiya (men’s 57kg), Deepak Punia (men’s 86kg), Bajrang Punia (men’s 65kg), Sonam Malik (women’s 62kg), and Anshu Malik (women's 57kg) are the others to have punched a Tokyo ticket.
During the interaction with the media, Vinesh Phogat also spoke highly of teenagers Anshu and Sonam, who will be making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo.
“I am happy Sonam and Anshu have joined me for the Olympics. I’m not the only female wrestler now! They have a very good chance as they are still very young and will gather a lot of experience. They will push me, I will push them as well,” said Vinesh Phogat.
"I’ve reached 85 per cent in my performance but have not reached the peak yet" - Vinesh Phogat
With just less than 100 days left for the Olympics, Vinesh was candid enough to accept the fact that she hasn't yet reached perfection. One of the biggest medal prospects in Tokyo, Vinesh Phogat is aware of peoples’ expectations and doesn’t want to pressurize herself before the big-ticket event.
“I’m in the right track. I’ve reached 85 per cent in my performance but have not reached the peak yet. As we get closer to the Olympics, I will start peaking. I want to take it slowly and don’t want to peak early,” explained the 2020 Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award recipient.
“I am also making different strategies for different wrestlers. Some are strong, some are technically smart and so on. I have to go into the fights with them accordingly. I am aware that people have a lot of expectations from me but I’m not under any pressure. This gives extra incentive to perform and it can only boost my training,” she signed off.