Vinesh hopes to emulate Geeta's feats

Wrestling has been the first love of Phogat sisters. If it was Geeta and Babita who put their unknown hamlet of Balali, Haryana, in forefront, younger sister Vinesh carried the legacy forward in superb style, winning the 48 kg gold on her Commonwealth Games debut in Glasgow.

While Geeta couldn’t participate owing to an injury, Babita made up for her absence by winning gold in the 51 kg, the category in which her elder sister won the top honours in 2010. Geeta in 2012 also become the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics.

Apart from them, Lalita (53 kg), Sakshi Malik (58 kg) and Geetika Jakhar (63 kg) won silver medals while Navjot Kaur bagged a bronze in women's 69kg.

However, it was 19-year old Vinesh who was cynosure of all eyes this time. The youngest Phogat, petted by elder cousins, credited them for her success and hoped to emulate their feats.

“Wrestling is in our family so I did not have to look out for inspiration. It would not have been possible without my sisters Geeta and Babita. Geeta was always helping us with tips. I know I can count on them,” said Vinesh on the sidelines of felicitation event by JSW.

“I saw my sisters winning medals in the previous Commonwealth Games and I was thinking when can I win medals.”

The success of Phogat sisters has also helped to bring a shift in the mind of the folks in the village.
“There is a lot of change in attitude of parents in our village after seeing us. Many parents send their daughters for wrestling but they want quick results. I have been practising for the 10-12 years. I dropped out in 8th standard to focus in wrestling.

“A lot of effort and hard work goes into winning a medal for the country. Now that I have won gold in CWG and getting all the attention, my friends feel that had they continued wrestling, they could have also achieved something.”


Babita said she was determined to win a medal in Glasgow. “I had a ligament injury before the competition but wanted to go there and win a medal.”

Sakshi, who too is talked about as a promising talent, was attracted to the sport after seeing the outfit of women wrestlers in a newspaper.

“I was 14 then. I asked my father to put me into wrestling and my parents have always supported me. I have done my post graduation in Physical Education and would like to do something connected to the sport in future,” she said.

Punjab’s Navjot Kaur hoped her medal would attract the attention of the state government “There are not many coaches and facilities. I would request the state government to help the wrestlers.”

Eight wrestlers and judoka Sushila Devi were felicitated by the JSW, whose Sports Excellence Program (SEP) has been supporting them.

A prize money of Rs 5 lakh for the gold medallists, Rs 2.5 lakh for silver medalists and 1.25 lakh for bronze winners was also announced.

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