Star Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Friday said she does not have much time to grieve over her Tokyo Games debacle and is gearing up for future challenges while young Anshu Malik suggested that a sports psychologist should be attached with the team to help them overcome nerves at a big stage like the Olympics.
The athletes spoke during a programme where Tata Motors and the Wrestling Federation of India announced the extension of their partnership till the 2024 Olympics.
When Vinesh was asked about her experience in Tokyo where she made a shock quarter-final exit, she said she “learnt a lot”.
“It was my second Olympics. In my first Olympics, I got injured and now I suffered defeat and I would accept that. I will work over the weaknesses before the upcoming competitions.
“At the senior level, we don’t have enough time to grieve over a defeat, because the next Olympics is approaching and there are back-to-back competitions. It’s one thing to reach on top but to stay on top is challenging,” said Vinesh, who was suspended by WFI for indiscipline in Tokyo but later let off with a warning.
The 26-year-old from Balali village in Haryana, said she even learnt from her juniors who were in Tokyo.
“We (Anshu and Sonam) went together this time and I wish that we qualify in all weight categories the next time and give our best the Olympics, Worlds and Commonwealth and other championships.”
When Anshu, who is rising fast from the junior ranks, asked what is it that she feels is needed in terms of support, the 19-year-old from Nidani mentioned the services of a psychologist.
“There are a lot of facilities now, compared to past but sometimes you get nervous like Olympics is a big stage. If someone can interact with us, like a psychologist, that will be better,” she said.
Listening to this, WFI President Brijbhushan Sharan Singh admitted that the Indian team needs to have two psychologists travelling with them all the time.
Bajrang Punia, who won a bronze in the 65kg category, was asked what goes through the mind of the wrestlers when they trail in a about and don’t have much time left to recover.
“We have only a split second to decide which move we need to make. There is no time to look at the scoreboard. All we need is to execute the moves that we have practised during the training,” he said.
Ravi Dahiya echoed the same, saying, “there is a certain mindset with which we go on the mat. We are just focussed on executing the strategy, nothing else.”
Talking about injuries and rehabilitation, Vinesh said it is important to stay “calm and patient”.
“You need to stay away from negative thoughts. The fear of injury resurfacing remains in mind and you have to surround yourself with positive people. Self-belief is paramount.”
The WFI boss urged Tata Motors officials to consider developing a facility around Delhi for managing injuries of the wrestlers.
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