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Anything can happen on the mat, confesses Vinesh Phogat

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Anything can happen on the mat, confesses Vinesh Phogat

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SportsCafe Desk


Vinesh Phogat has revealed she did not follow her coach Woller Akos’ instruction of staying away from Hilderbrandt, instead, she did the complete opposite in her bronze medal-winning bout at the World Wrestling Championships. She believes we will see her best version at the Olympics.

Vinesh Phogat ended her medal drought at the Wrestling World Championships as the star Indian wrestler clinched a bronze in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday. She defeated two-time world bronze medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece by fall in the bronze medal bout of 53 kg freestyle event and became only the fourth Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the prestigious tournament.

Ahead of the 25-year-old’s World Championships’ Olympic qualifying bout, the precise tactics suggested by coach Woller Akos were to “stay away from Sarah Ann Hildebrandt, block her right arm and protect the legs“. But in her post-bout interview with PTI, Vinesh revealed that she did exactly the opposite and her tactics worked, with her winning the 53kg bronze and a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Coaches were suggesting something else but I felt something different on the mat and changed tactics accordingly. I felt she was getting in, but because I was not conceding any points, it was exhausting her. So, I thought let’s lure her into leg attacks more and stay solid in defense to completely wear her out. I let her come in but held her off. It worked for me. I knew how much strength she had compared to mine,” Vinesh told PTI.

The American number one got a hold off of Vinesh’s right leg in the second repechage bout five times but could not convert those moves into points. The world championship medal, which was missing from her CV for long, gives the Indian wrestler the cushion of a few months to plan better for ‘Mission Tokyo’. Phogat went on to say that she is pleased with the way she trained her mind to overcome the negative thoughts that plagued her when it came to switching her weight category, further adding that she believes she is moving in the right direction to become the best version of herself.

“It’s a relief because now I have a lot of time to prepare for the Olympics. And it’s a bronze only. I want to convert it to a gold and also win the Olympic medal. My better version is yet to come. I think you will see my best in Olympics, that’s the pinnacle,” she added.

After losing to Mayu Mukaida from Japan, Vinesh conceded just three points in her next four bouts. With Mukaida routed by Korean Yong Mi Pak who has been beaten by Phogat twice, Phogat explained how anything is possible on the mat.

“Anything can happen on the mat. You have seen the Korean girl (Yong Mi Pak) beat Mukaida 11-0 in the final and I have beaten that Korean girl twice. But yes, If I had won against the Japanese, the results would have been different. My category is such that five-six wrestlers can beat each other on any given day. Depends on the day and the body language," she concluded.

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