TWENTYONE-YEAR-OLD Vinesh Phogat, a wrestler from Haryana hails from a wrestling family and is a cousin of the Phogat sisters (Babita and Geeta). At such young age she has gathered many prestigious titles to her name and believes that she can achieve more of it.
She will be seen in the inaugural season of Pro Wrestling League (PWL) which begins on tomorrow. She is part of team Dilli Veer and was bought for Rs. 29,70,000.
Few of her notable achievements include gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, silver at the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championship, silver at Commonwealth Wrestling Championship and bronze in 2014 Asian Games and 2013 Asian Wrestling Championship. She is supported by JSW Sports.
She may be young for a sport like wrestling and some may say that it can be too dangerous, but for her being the youngest among the other wrestlers is the advantage as she can still learn many new things in her sport. Belonging to her family have indulged in wrestling for a long time she does not have go in search of inspiration as it comes within the family.
"My sisters (cousin) are involved in the sport and so is my whole family, the one thing that keeps me going is the fact that I have my family to support me. All I have to do is give justice to what they have taught me and continue the baton and excel in the sport," she said.
At a her age, girls of today's generation may be busy in their future plans or in higher studies, trying for jobs that they may or may not like. But as for her, she has won a lot of major medals and has been inspiring girls around the country especially those in her hometown. But all this didn't come without struggle.
Hailing from a conservative town, her family had to face a lot of backlash from the local community for sending their girls out to participate in a sport traditionally viewed as masculine. But the family stood by their girls' passion at all times, and once Vinesh's sisters and later herself had started finding success and recognition, others too came around to see their point of view and the girls became de facto heroes to those around them.
Here is an inspiring quote from the wrestler via Twitter
In 2013 she played her first senior bout in the Commonwealth Wrestling championship and her opponent was Odunayo Adekuoroye, already an established champion in Africa and also performed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, when Vinesh was competing at junior level. She lost to her in the final and had to settle for the silver medal.
Sharing her thoughts about the match she said,
"In 2013 it was the first time I entered senior wrestling and before this (commonwealth wrestling championship) I took part in Asian Wrestling Championship where I was nervous as competing with the best, I was doubtful if I could win a medal but I did (bronze) so then entering the commonwealth I was confident."
"When I learnt my opponent was from Nigeria, I thought to myself 'oh okay it may just be easy, nothing to worry', but when she came on and the match began I was left stunned as to who is this person and bouts are painful and eventually I lost the match. But one thing is for sure I was improving in my game and also after the match a satisfaction of wrestling a champ like her and losing to her was just another learning experience," she added.
The following year (2014) she won gold in the commonwealth games which was a something that she wanted and she did.
Talking about what improvements she has had over the years she said,
"Initially I was not aware of the techniques that are involved, the timings and when should one take the bout and keep it in control, all of this at present I am aware and I can say that I know them and I implement them in my matches. I was afraid first but now the confidence level keeps increasing with each match."
Participating in a wrestling league which is first of its kind in the country as a wrestler she expects people to go out in huge numbers and show their support.
"All I ask of the people is that they come and support us. They have done that in the past, or else we wouldn't have been able to perform so well. But now I'm requesting everyone to support us even more; we expect and want wrestling to be a top sport and with the help of this league. We assure the fans that we will perform at our best in the league."
She also adds that it will help her and other wrestlers to prepare themselves for the Olympics that is approaching next year.
"PWL will help us prepare well for the qualifying rounds for the Olympics and we are looking forward to it as nothing is bigger than performing well at the Olympics but first step is to qualify for it, and through PWL we will try and achieve that."
Ask her who is her toughest opponent that she sees in this league and without any hesitation or fear she says
"Alyssa Lampe (United States) who is from Bengaluru team, she is a good wrestler, her performance record has been good. She defeated an Olympic champion so facing somebody like her will not be easy but I'm looking forward to it as this too will be a learning experience."
A message to the young girls from the young wrestler,
"I request all the girls to watch PWL, there are many female wrestlers in the league and all are the best at what they do. This is not a sport only for men, we want this sport to grow and want as much as many girls to get attracted to sport and consider wrestling too. Many a times it is believed that wrestling can make one look like a man because of the training and the way we look, but honestly there is nothing like that and if you look at us we are very much girls who just love what we do so please do watch and be inspired."
And then, addressing all the fans in general, she says,
"Come, watch us, support us and with your support we can do wonders and who knows also get an Olympic medal which is the most prestigious event in our lives so come in huge numbers."
Watch below the video posted by PWL on their official Youtube channel, where Vinesh talks about some little known facts about her: