Vinesh Phogat's journey from extreme pain in Rio to no. 1 seed at Tokyo Olympics

World Number 1. Vinesh Phogat [Image Credits: Vinesh Phogat/Twitter]
World Number 1. Vinesh Phogat [Image Credits: Vinesh Phogat/Twitter]
Godwin Mathew

Vinesh Phogat is one of India's biggest medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics. The grappler is one of the Indians at the Olympics to keep an eye on. Her form leading up to the games has been nothing short of exceptional.

She has won all four competitions she has participated in this year. Her brilliance has helped her seal the number 1 spot ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. But Vinesh Phogat didn't just bloom out of nowhere.

Check Out: Tokyo Olympics 2021 Schedule

Here's more about Phogat's journey from excruciating pain in Rio to achieving World Number 1 status ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Also Read: 17 days to Tokyo Olympics 2020: 70 minutes that changed Indian wrestling forever

Vinesh Phogat and her rise to the top

Vinesh Phogat first rose to fame after winning bronze at the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championships. A year later, the grappler bagged gold at the Commonwealth games.

She continued her brilliance with a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games. She made her way to the Rio Olympics after her triumph against Poland's Iwona Matkowska.

Also Read: Can the Indians wrestle their way to glory at the 2020 Olympics? (Part 1)

Vinesh Phogat's painful experience at the Rio Olympics

Vinesh Phogat was tipped as the favorite to win a medal at the Rio Olympics. However, she twisted her knee in her quarterfinal bout against China's Sun Yanan. Phogat was trying to escape from the opponent's grasp, when this horrific injury happened.

Her performance up until that point was encouraging for the Indian contingent, as she looked determined to finish on the podium.

While talking about the injury, Phogat said, "I was like, just give me a few painkillers. I want to go in there again. I just didnt want to give up. That's not me. But that didn't happen. I could see everything slip off my hand and I was there, lying helpless."

Vinesh Phogat's stunning comeback into wrestling

Vinesh Phogat made a stylish comeback into wrestling. She bagged silver at the 2017 Asian Wrestling Championships. A year later she went onto win the Commonwealth Games gold. She created history in 2018 by becoming the first Indian woman to win a wrestling gold medal at the Asian Games.

But her road to the Tokyo Olympics started off in 2019, when she won a tough fight for bronze at the World Championships in Kazakhstan. Vinesh had moved to the 53 kg category back then and showcased terrific performances against big opponents.

Vinesh defeated Sofia Mattsson and Sarah Hildebrandt on her way to claiming the bronze medal. Both of them have been Olympic medalists and World Champions. But Vinesh was motivated and cruised her way to a finish on the podium.

Can Vinesh Phogat win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics?

Vinesh Phogat has definitely emerged as one of the favorites to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She has performed exceptionally well this year. Her dominance in international competitions helped her claim the number 1 spot.

Although she will face tough opponents at the Tokyo Olympics, Phogat has proven that she isn't scared of the stature of the opponents. The 26-year old is determined to win a medal for the country.

This determination has helped her fight through all the adversity. Now it looks like this year, she may very well fulfill her uncle Mahavir Phogat's dream of winning a medal for India.

While talking about her mindset heading into Tokyo, Vinesh Phogat said," All these setbacks helped me become stronger. I feel that I enter Tokyo as a much stronger athlete mentally. I want to finish what I have started."

Also Read: 5 wrestlers who might stop Vinesh Phogat from winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics

Edited by Rohit Mishra

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