Indian wrestler and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, has stated that the country had the ability to win multiple medals in wrestling at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I feel India have 4-5 strong contenders, who can beat any wrestler in the world. I will not take names but we can win 2-3 Olympic medals. The mindset has changed,” Phogat asserted.
“Earlier people used to just look for participation or win a round at the Worlds, but now medals are a possibility for all. I know these girls. After Sakshi’s bronze, girls are now targeting gold at the Olympics,” she said, adding Indian wrestlers have started becoming technically sound while they opted for a power game earlier.
Phogat known for her technical abilities, doesn’t mind being called arrogant since the attitude comes in handy to intimidate rivals on the mat.
“I am very stubborn, since [my] childhood. If I feel something is right, and if that is wrong, I will be very stubborn about that and I make sure people agree with me even if I am incorrect sometimes,” Phogat said.
She added that her moves on the wrestling mat are helped by her fearlessness, which is conveyed to her rivals.
“It helps me on the mat. People say it’s over-confidence but for me it’s belief. I do not get intimidated and your opponent also notices the body language. Some people work on it but for me, it is god’s gift,” she added.
The significance of getting a nomination for the Laureus awards has still not dawned on the Haryana grappler.
“Honestly I still do not know what this nomination is about. I just know that my name has been put for voting. I had not even heard of Laureus. And if no Indian athlete has been nominated before, I can only be proud. It is definitely huge for wrestling in India because it is still struggling for recognition,” Phogat said.
Vinesh noted that there have been improvements in the wrestling ecosystem and credited Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan for the progress.
“Four years back, there was not much respect for athletes but not anymore, it has gone up. Now it’s up to the wrestlers to benefit from the good system in place. They need to push their limits,” she added, praising the WFI’s recent measures such as the central contract system for wrestlers.
The Asian Games gold medallist was included in Grade A of WFI’s newly-introduced contract scheme.