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Vinesh Phogat At Paris Olympics: 'Keeping Weight At 50kg For Four Months Will Be Tough'

Having switched to the lowest weight class of 50kg, star Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat dished out an impressive show at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers, where she did not concede a single point and sealed her third consecutive Olympic quota

Vinesh Phogat file pic, UWW photo
File photo of India's Paris Olympics-qualified wrestler Vinesh Phogat. Photo: X/United World Wrestling

Locking the Olympic quota would put Vinesh Phogat at ease for a few days but the fiery Indian wrestler says maintaining weight having dropped to the lowest class of 50kg will be a huge challenge in the build-up to the Paris Games. (More Sports News)

Vinesh dished out an impressive show at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers, where she did not concede a single point in an easy draw and sealed her third consecutive Olympic quota.

Vinesh, 29, lost crucial mat-time for one and a half years due to the protest against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and in that period, Antim Panghal secured a quota place in 53kg category -- a pet weight division of Vinesh.

The most successful woman wrestler from the country had no option but to switch the weight category to ensure that she does not miss the bus to Olympics.

"I will have to manage my weight a lot better. I have brought myself down to 50kg after so long so I will try and maintain this as much as I can. It's not easy for me not to put on weight because my muscle mass is very high," Vinesh said after winning the 50kg quota for India.

"Because of that, I gain weight easily. It doesn't matter how fit I am, I still gain weight because I have a lot of muscle mass. I just want to control my weight. I have four months left, and every day is very important," she was quoted as saying by official UWW website.

"I did the weight switch because I didn't have any option, not out of happiness. But I won a quota for my country in the 50kg category. I am happy that I can go to the Olympics. Whether I go in the 50kg category or in the 53kg category, that will be decided in the trials, but, whatever it is, I won a quota for my country."

Vinesh has already suffered heartbreaks at the Rio Olympics and Tokyo Games where she was eliminated quite early despite being a medal favourite.

Now she wants to complete the unfinished business.

"I just want to try my best. It's been 20 years since I've been wrestling. I just want an Olympic medal. Everyone is working for that."

Vinesh had claimed that she fought depression and was even struck by COVID-19 and add to that the prolonged protest and legal battle against the then WFI chief, the mental pressure was immense.

She still came out and performed in Bishkek.

"It was difficult but when you win, everything becomes worth it. I will say that I will be at peace for four to five days, but my main target is the Olympics. I will try to do what I couldn't do in the last two Olympics. I can do better at this Olympics."

Vinesh dismissed the view that it was an easy job for her in Bishkek since strong wrestlers were not part of the competition.

"Competition is competition. It is not that only if China and Japan are competing alongside you that it becomes a competition. Everyone becomes strong on the mat."

She is one of the most accomplished woman wrestlers from India with two Worlds medals, several Asian and Asian Games titles to her name.

Now she is determined to add that missing Olympic medal to her bulging trophy cabinet.

"It's taken so much hard work and struggle. I have been away from the mat for 1-1/2 years. I have come back after an operation. Many people have suggested that I should not go in the 50kg category because I could get injured again.

"But I did not have any option. It was a do-or-die situation. I chose the die option."