Time for Phogat sisters to show the real 'Dangal'
With the national trials having come to a close last week, we now know the Indian team for the freestyle wrestling segment of the upcoming Commonwealth Games, as well as the Asian Wrestling Championships. To our delight, some of the most prominent names, such as Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, as well as the famous Phogat cousins, Babita and Vinesh, have managed to make the cut for the same, apart from the legendary wrestlers such as Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia, to name a few.
However, this time, the attention will be mainly on the Phogat sisters, who were brought into prominence by the Aamir Khan-starrer blockbuster, 'Dangal'. The film portrayed the journey of their wrestler father Mahavir Singh Phogat, an ex national champion, who gave the sport his all to make sure that his daughters weren't forced to lead the life of drudgery the society wished to force on them, and turned them into world class wrestlers.
Of the six female wrestlers from the Phogat family, Babita and Vinesh have managed to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as well as the upcoming Asian Championships, to be held at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. While Vinesh has qualified in Women's Freestyle flyweight (50 kg) category, Babita Phogat has managed to make the cut for the Women's Freestyle Bantamweight (54 kg) category. Commonwealth Games is the same tournament, where both of them had won the gold medals in the previous editions, and they will thus be entering the arena as the defending champions.
The Commonwealth Games is the destination where they have to show that making a biopic on their early struggles wasn't a mistake, and they can cash in on the image gained through Dangal's massive success.
A tough road ahead for Babita
Babita, who was out of action since her forgettable outing at the Rio Olympics, is now back into action, and is raring to go for the Commonwealth Games. With a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and a brilliant performance at both the Asian Championships and the Asian Games, Babita can make amends for her disastrous performance at Rio, and aim for the unfulfilled Phogat dream -- becoming the first Indian wrestler to clinch an Olympic gold.
Time for Vinesh to regain her throne
Had it not been for an injury, probably Vinesh could have fulfilled the Phogat dream at Rio itself. Having lost the chance for the gold because of a freak knee injury at the hands of her Chinese opponent in the quarter-finals, Vinesh will now be looking forward to regaining momentum in the Commonwealth Games, and defend her title as well. A further win at the Asian Games, as well as the World Championships will only strengthen her claim for the podium, or even a possible gold medal at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
A golden opportunity for Pooja Dhanda
Interestingly, the centre of attraction in both 'Dangal' and the real Phogat sisters -- Geeta Phogat -- will not be able to compete at either Commonwealth Games or Asian Championships due to her loss to Pooja Dhanda in the Women's Freestyle (57 kg Lightweight) category. Even though relatively inexperienced in comparison to Geeta Phogat, Pooja Dhanda has had her days of glory.
Till date, she is the lone Indian wrestler to have reached the final of any Olympics, when she narrowly lost to Baatarzorigyn Battsetseg of Mongolia by 1-2 in the inaugural Youth Olympics, and had to settle for a silver medal, something even Sakshi Malik couldn't do in the senior Olympics. The Commonwealth Games is nothing less than a golden opportunity for this young wrestler to relaunch herself on the international stage, and prove herself as a significant wrestler, who can work wonders for India at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Whether the Phogat sisters and Pooja Dhanda manage to reclaim India's lost glory or not, only time will tell, but we do wish that they perform to the best of her abilities, and fulfill Mahavir Singh Phogat's dream of India standing on the top of the world in the arena of wrestling.