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Interview with Geeta Phogat: "I am determined to go beyond my World Championship bronze medal finish"

India's most successful female wrestler, Phogat will participate in the World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, USA this September.

Geeta Phogat after her gold medal victory at the Commonwealth Games in 2010

Indian wrestler Geeta Phogat won India’s first ever gold medal in women’s wrestling in 2010 at that year’s Commonwealth Games. She will participate in the World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, USA this September.

Q: How is your preparation for the upcoming World Wrestling Championship to be held in Las Vegas, USA from September 7-15?

A: I’m training hard for the World Wrestling Championship – my camp at SAI Lucknow has been quite fruitful for me, as well as all the women wrestlers. This will be my third world championship and I’m confident of putting up a good show. Our wrestling contingent was slated to leave for USA on August 16, but owing to visa issues, we are now travelling next week.

Q: You created history when you won a bronze medal in the 2012 World Wrestling Championship in Canada – a same event where your youngster sister Babita attained a podium finish. How did that feel?

A: The 2012 World Wrestling Championship will always be special for me as it was for the first time that Indian women grapplers won a medal at the World Wrestling Championship. I got the better of Ukranie’s Nataliya Synyshyn in the bronze medal play-off bout and it was a fantastic moment for me.

Q: You were laid low with a prolonged knee injury in 2013, which put you out of competitive action for a year and a half.

A: I took part in the 2013 World Wrestling Championship in the 58-kg category and lost in the first round. In February 2014 I sustained a ligament tear on my right knee and underwent surgery in April, thus putting me out of competitive action for a long while.

Q: How difficult is it to make a comeback from a prolonged injury?

A: Trust me, it’s not easy. I really worked hard on my rehab and defeated Sakshi Malik in the selection trials to seal my spot for the World Wrestling Championship. During the time I was forced out of action, other grapplers replaced me and were performing well, so it is not easy to stage a comeback.

Q: You became the first female Indian wrestler to win a medal in a major competition – a gold medal finish at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

A: The 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games is my most satisfying achievement because it came in front of the home crowd. I know competition in the World Wrestling Championship is stiffer than Commonwealth Games, but winning in your own backyard is special.

I’m determined to go beyond my bronze medal finish at the 2012 World Wrestling Championship and change the colour of my medal. My preparations have been good so far – keeping my fingers crossed!

Q: You will be grappling in the 58-kg at the 2015 World Wrestling Championship – a category new for you as you have always competed in the 55-kg category.

A: This category is new to me – I only took part in the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championship and won a bronze. I will have to get used to this category and also do some homework on the top grapplers in this category although I know that Japan’s Saori Yoshida is an overwhelming favourite – she was won three Olympic gold medals as well as four Asiad gold medals besides winning the World Championship twelve times. I’m going to give my best shot in Las Vegas.

Q:The Pro Wrestling League was launched recently – a big boost for Indian wrestling?

A: Absolutely! It will benefit youngsters as well as encourage wrestlers from all corners of the country to take up this sport. Indian wrestling will richly benefit from the Pro Wrestling League. 

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