NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Five years after being stretchered off the carpet with a twisted knee in Rio, India’s Vinesh Phogat believes she has become mentally stronger and technically perfected when it comes to handling. won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
Phogat’s dream of winning a medal in her first Olympics was brutally cut off in 2016 when she injured her ankle in the quarter-finals against rival China and left the mat in tears.
“Now I have the experience of playing an Olympics. I know what to expect, how to prepare and how to behave,” the 26-year-old told the Times of India on Saturday.
“All these setbacks have made me stronger, and I feel like I entered Tokyo as a much stronger athlete mentally.
“I want to finish what I started.”
Currently training in Hungary, Phogat is the world number one in the women’s 53kg and is also Tokyo’s top seed.
She has been training under Hungarian coach Woller Akos since 2018 and the partnership has worked wonderfully for her, the Asian and Commonwealth Games champion. said.
“People won’t understand from the outside but my match before that there were technical errors.
“I can see that now I am smoother and show clean wrestling on the mat. I don’t feel stuck in the game anymore. There is movement in my game. “
As for motivation, Phogat said she never forgot the pain in Rio.
“…Every time I go to the ring for a match, that injury motivates me,” said the wrestler from Haryana.
“It was one of the lowest points of my career. There is a lot of negativity from within.
“But I was able to get out of it and in hindsight, it helped me become mentally strong.”
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Kim Coghill)