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How Vinesh Phogat defeated ‘nature’ and her own ‘demons’ to win a historic World Cup medal | More sports news

Every attempt failed. The closest this author got to Vinesh Phogat on the other end of a phone call was when she reached the Belgrade airport to catch her flight home. “Woh shopping karne gayi hai (she went shopping)” said coach Jitender Yadavi. The phone did not connect an hour later, WhatsApp messages showed only a single check. The coach had boarded, the ladies too wrestle team, including Vinesh, who wore her second World Cup medal – the only female wrestler from India to do so.
At home, after a 24-hour rest, the pattern did not change. Repeated attempts to get through to Vinesh failed.
“She’s like that, don’t talk to 99% of the media,” said coach Yadav. Half Nelson. Tap out. Match over.
Last week, after shockingly lost her opening match in Belgrade to Mongolian Khulan Batkhuyag, Vinesh crossed her fingers. In wrestling, if an opponent who defeated you in the qualifying rounds advances to the final, you will become active again for repechage rounds looking for a bronze medal.
Vinesh had similar expectations. Batkhuyag struggled well and reached the final. Vinesh was alive again.

“We had no doubts that the Mongolian would make it to the final,” Vinesh coach Yadav said. timesofindia.com.
Vinesh was the favorite for the 53kg gold after the withdrawal of Japan’s Akari Fujinami. But the challenges for women in sports go beyond competition and injury fear.
In the midst of her pre-tournament weight loss routine, on her way to Belgrade, Vinesh’s menstrual cycle started.
While female athletes around the world routinely address that, dealing with menstrual cramps while preparing for a major tournament is never easy.
A second medal at the World Cup meant a lot to Vinesh. After a decade on the senior circuit, prior to her opening match in Belgrade, Vinesh had expressed her dismay with only one World Cup medal in 10 years.


(ANI photo)
But coach Yadav noticed something in training that didn’t bode well.
“When a player is fit and fully recovered during the warm-up, his/her face turns red, it glows from the rapid blood circulation. But there was nothing like that on Vinesh’s face during the warm-ups before the tournament started. Her face was yellow. It only happens if you are not fully recovered,” Yadav . said TimesofIndia.com.
It was to be expected.
In addition to a phase of natural phenomenon, Vinesh also tried to lose weight. She was 3 kg overweight about 48 hours before the weigh-in. To shed those extra pounds, she mostly stayed on an empty stomach. In the end she weighed under 53 kg.
But the periodic cycle coupled with a weight-loss regimen took its toll on Vinesh’s body, which may not have been quite ready for her opening bout.
Coach Yadav said it is not taboo for female athletes to reveal the start of their menstrual cycle to their male coaches because they have to work very closely together. They discuss their problems openly.
“It’s not hidden because we have to work together. It’s natural. Sab players khul ke bolte hain (players talk about it openly),” Yadav continued. “Vinesh’s husband (Somvir Rathee) arrived in Belgrade the day before we landed there and helped her lose weight.”


(Photo: United World Wrestling)
Vinesh’s battles with injuries and her struggle to maintain her mental well-being began after her nasty injury at the Rio Olympics and a lengthy recovery period after surgery.
But she’s made a valiant comeback every time an unfortunate injury brought her down, like the nasty one in Rio 2016, the concussion she sustained in 2017, and the elbow surgery immediately after the Tokyo Olympics last year. The comeback gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and this historic bronze medal at the World Championships are testament to Vinesh’s determination.
But the Olympics remain an “unconquered monster” for Vinesh, especially after another medalless Games in Tokyo, where she was ousted in the quarter-finals, and it sparked an emotional outburst. She was even suspended by the Wrestling Federation of India, but then received a warning.
As Vinesh was a gold medal favorite, her first round loss in Belgrade at the World Championships saw her the target of many. Vinesh answered her critics after returning from the World Championships in Belgrade, which remain a largely unsatisfactory outing for Indian wrestlers, despite the bronze medals won by Vinesh and Bajrang Punia.
“…for them (fans) it’s only one day of their lives after watching a match. What they don’t realize is that these things can seriously affect the condition of the athletes and their mood, especially in difficult times, Vinesh had posted in a message on Twitter after landing in India from Belgrade.

Coach Yadav says her mental battle really took off after the painful exit from the Rio Olympics.
“Physically player jaldi fit ho jata hai, but psychologically upar aane mein time lagta hai (physical recovery can be faster, but it takes time to recover if you are psychologically down),” Yadav told TimesofIndia.com.
“After Tokyo, in Istanbul (Yasar Dogu ranking series), her performance deteriorated. She was not physically fit and came back after an injury. But it was important to play, because we had to plan the future (schedule) accordingly.
“The most important thing here (in Belgrade) was that this (medal) was important for her comeback. A CWG medal may be prestigious in the media, but it’s not big considering the level of wrestling. A medal in a major league does. a lot of good for a player’s mind and psychology,” Yadav added.
The medal, second at World Championships to three-time CWG gold medalist Vinesh, was finally achieved.
After two rematches, against Kazakhstan’s Zhuldyz Eshimova against the fall and Azerbaijan’s Leyla Gurbanova who was injured, Vinesh found himself in the game for the bronze medal against fourth-seeded Jonna Malmgren of Sweden.
Wearing her injured knee in the game against Malmgren, she battled both her opponent and her mental demons to wrestle like a cunning fox, dodging the Swede’s attacks and surprise her with counters to score takedowns. Sudden explosions from Vinesh, just when Malmgren least expected those outbursts from the Indian, caused the Swede to nap and admit takedowns.
Vinesh won 8-0.

A comeback medal, with a bit of luck after losing her opening match, was a huge achievement from Vinesh, who was not at 100 percent throughout the tournament. Her victory at the bronze medal should be celebrated. Not just because of the achievement in itself, but because of everything she has had to overcome to be on the World Cup podium for the second time.
Add to that all that consultations with neurologists to recover from the concussion she suffered in 2017, followed by battles with surgery and an emotional breakdown, it’s been a hellish journey for Vinesh and she’s still decorated like no other among female wrestlers in the world. country.
“It’s natural, if you’re chasing something like an Olympic medal for years, and the whole concentration is on it, if it doesn’t happen because of a small mistake, then it hurts,” Yadav told TimesofIndia.com.
And then he repeated.
“Physically player jaldi fit ho jata hai, but psychologically upar aane mein time lagta hai.”

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