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Vinesh Phogat took ‘big health risk’: A Paris comeback story forged in resilience

Vinesh Phogat took ‘big health risk’: A Paris comeback story forged in resilience

Vinesh Phogat's journey is an inspiring tale of resilience. It highlights the power of determination and the sacrifices athletes make to achieve their Olympic dreams. With her sights set on Paris, Phogat's story is far from over. The wrestling world awaits to see if she can continue her dominant form and return home with a coveted Olympic medal.

Just a year ago, Vinesh Phogat’s Olympic dream seemed a distant possibility. The wrestling star, who emerged as a vocal critic against the then Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, faced a multitude of challenges: a fight for fair administration, a comeback from injury, and a grueling weight cut. Yet, defying all odds, Phogat secured a quota spot for the upcoming Paris Olympics in the 50kg category.

Year of Uncertainty for Vinesh Phogat

Prior to April 2023, Vinesh Phogat, along with other wrestlers, spearheaded protests against Brij Bhushan, accused of sexual harassment. This period of activism put her Olympic aspirations on hold. Additionally, another wrestler, Antim Panghal, securing a quota in Phogat’s preferred 53kg category further complicated her path to Paris.

Daring Decision and Relentless Training

Undeterred, Vinesh Phogat embarked on a rigorous comeback. She shed a significant amount of weight, dropping from 59kg to the 50kg category – the Olympics’ lightest weight division.

This drastic cut, doctors warned, posed a health risk, yet Phogat persisted. She trained intensely, sparring with male wrestlers to improve her strength and receiving constant medical supervision.

Victory on Mat: Vinesh Phogat

Vinesh Phogat’s dedication paid off. In her first international competition since September 2022, she dominated the Asian Qualifying Tournament in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Winning all three matches without conceding a single point, she secured a quota spot for Paris. This victory resonated not just for Phogat, but also for Indian women’s wrestling, which had been grappling with off-field controversies.

“It was a big health risk to drop down to 50 kg,” told Vinesh Phogat to Indian Express, whose normal weight was around 56 kg.

“I was advised against it by doctors because they feared it could lead to injuries. However, it was a do-or-die situation for me. I would have regretted it if I sat at home in a healthy state and saw the Olympics on TV. So, I decided to take a risk.”

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Message of Resilience

Vinesh Phogat’s journey is an inspiring tale of resilience. It highlights the power of determination and the sacrifices athletes make to achieve their Olympic dreams. With her sights set on Paris, Phogat’s story is far from over. The wrestling world awaits to see if she can continue her dominant form and return home with a coveted Olympic medal.

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