India at Paris Olympics 2024: Know your athlete – Vinesh Phogat | Olympics - Hindustan Times
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India at Paris Olympics 2024: Know your athlete – Vinesh Phogat

Jul 10, 2024 04:31 PM IST

Seeded first in the women’s 53kg category at Tokyo 2020, Vinesh Phogat did not progress beyond the preliminary bouts.

India’s professional wrestler and two-time Olympian, Vinesh Phogat, is competing in the women’s 50kg event at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Vinesh Phogat will be keen to land her maiden Olympics medal.(Getty)
Vinesh Phogat will be keen to land her maiden Olympics medal.(Getty)

Vinesh Phogat, 29, was at the forefront of an emotionally-charged protest against former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexual harassment. Soon to be a three-time Olympian, Phogat has a decorated career with three Commonwealth Games gold medals, two World Championships bronze medals, and an Asian Games gold medal.

Coming from India's renowned Phogat wrestling family, Vinesh followed in the footsteps of her cousins Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari. She was introduced to wrestling at a young age by her uncle Mahavir Singh Phogat and reportedly faced significant opposition from villagers who viewed wrestling as a man’s sport.

Vinesh also had to cope with the untimely death of her father when she was nine-year-old. Despite these challenges, Vinesh found solace and guidance in wrestling.

She had a successful junior career and won her first major international title at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the 48kg category. Her journey to the Olympics began by securing a berth for Rio 2016 after winning her Olympic qualifying event in Istanbul.

However, her dreams were shattered when she suffered a knee injury during the quarter-finals, ending her medal hopes. She bounced back with gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games before transitioning to the 53kg category in 2019.

She has won bronze at the Asian Wrestling Championships and secured her maiden World Championships medal in Nur-Sultan, which qualified her for Tokyo 2020.

Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, Vinesh was in exceptional form, having remained unbeaten throughout the year and winning gold at the 2021 Asian Championships.

Although seeded first in the women’s 53kg category at Tokyo 2020, she faced challenges and did not progress beyond the preliminary bouts.

Vinesh underwent elbow surgery after Tokyo 2020 and returned to the mat in 2022 with immediate success, winning a bronze medal at the World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade and a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

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