Need improved facilities if we want medal at Olympics: Vinesh Phogat
Vinesh Phogat, India’s medal hope in Asian Games wrestling, feels a lot more needs to be done for athletes if the authorities expect medals at the Olympic Games.
The two-time Commonwealth Games champion was recently attending a training camp at SAI centre in Lucknow where the facilities, according to her, were not up to the mark.
“The quality of food is fine but a lot more change is needed. If you’re talking about Olympics then you’re required to give that kind of facility too. The wrestling hall there was so hot during the summer months that I had a problem in recovering after training. We train hard but when we can’t recover then chances of injury increase,” said the 23-year-old Vinesh.
“I had knee pain and could’ve had an injury. I also had to skip training at times. There was no electricity at times too. We kept telling the authorities. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) takes care of us and they were also angry over why their athletes don’t get proper facilities. They tried to get in touch with the people concerned.”
Asked who is to blame, Vinesh said: “Improvement has to come from all sectors. Every person has to own up responsibility and work with others. If players cannot recover from training, then injuries can happen. If we get injured ahead of important tournaments, it is the biggest loss.”
Vinesh, who had won bronze at the 2014 Incheon Games, also trained in Hungary and is confident ahead of the Jakarta Games. She says she has filled the gaps with the help of foreign coaches.
“My preparation is very good. I went to Hungary for training and have overcome the deficiencies and small mistakes that I was making. To try myself out, I took part in the Spanish Grand Prix where I won gold so I am happy with the result. The result of training in Hungary will show in the Asian Games,” said Vinesh during a send-off ceremony of Indian wrestlers.
“Foreign coaches plan for long term. They plan each day - how to train 10 days before a competition and 20 days after. I planned and discussed what I lacked, discussed power, speed, stamina, strategy. I worked on my speed. My weight category (50kg) is fast and they attack so fast that you don’t understand where they come from and go.”
Vinesh and colleagues will face the toughest competition from Japanese and Chinese wrestlers at the Asian Games but the Indian is prepared for the test.
“The Japanese are Olympic and world champions, the Chinese are Olympic medallists too. For me, this is no less than an Olympics. Most girls also took part in the Olympics and they will be tough. I am thinking of every bout and have strategised according to the opponents,” said Vinesh.
“But I am confident. Training brings confidence. My wrestling is also changing, there is experience coming in which is helping me understand the sport better like how to avoid injuries etc.”
Men’s freestyle: Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Sushil Kumar (74kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg), Mausam Khatri (97kg) and Sumit (125 kg)
Greco-Roman: Gyanender (60kg), Manish (67kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Harpreet Singh (87kg), Hardeep Singh (97kg) and Naveen (130kg)
Women’s freestyle: Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Pinki (53kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg), Sakshi Malik (62kg), Divya Kakran (68kg) and Kiran (76kg)