Vinesh hopes to raise the bar

Vinesh Phogat

Specialised training is imperative to reach the top in international sports and Indian wrestlers are fast waking up to this fact. The country’s brightest woman grappler, Vinesh Phogat, realised it and off she went in June to Hungary. She hopes the efforts will bear fruit at the upcoming Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

During her one-and-half month training in Hungary, Vinesh worked with well-known coach Woller Akos and focused on finer aspects of her game. “They trained me exactly on what was needed for me to get better, there was a special plan made after an assessment as to where I was lacking – power, speed, strategy,” Vinesh said.

“I am in lesser weight category, so I face fast attacks; a lot of time I can’t understand my opponents because they are so fast.”

The 23-year-old then tested her preparation in Madrid and ended up winning gold in the Spanish Grand Prix.

“I had gone to Hungary with a specific goal and I am happy with the level I have reached. It gave me confidence and I won a medal in Spain. At the Asian Games, I want to do my best,” said Vinesh who won a bronze at the 2014 Incheon Games.

The fact that the federation failed to appoint a foreign coach despite repeated pleas of top wrestlers meant they needed to take matters in their hands. “The CWG was important, but no foreign coach was appointed. Asian Games are also tough. The things we had to work on were not happening, so I trained in Hungary with a world class coach,” she said.

Vinesh also felt the need to overhaul the current coaching structure. “Indian coaches give their best. But wrestling has changed so much. Young athletes should join coaching and work with players. We need a combination of senior and young for correct planning,” she said.

“If we are looking at Olympic level, you need to work on very specific areas and that requires special attention. Only then weaknesses can be removed within a month and not in one year.”

The 50-kg wrestler, who won gold in the Gold Coast CWG, acknowledged the tough competition that awaits her at the Jakarta Convention Centre Assembly Hall. “There are Olympic and world medallists in my category, so all the bouts will be tough."

Poor facilities

The lack of facilities at the SAI Centre continues to hinder the training of women wrestlers.

“A few changes are there like food, but a lot needs to be done. If you want us to win at the Olympics you will have to provide facilities of that standard. We do training but recovery is not as good which increases the chances of injuries. Air conditioner is still a problem in training hall, I started getting some pain in the knee and I had to skip some training days. At times there is no electricity, but then we can’t stop training,” said Vinesh.

“Federation is giving their all, but they cannot do everything, every stakeholder will have to give their best.”

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Vinesh hopes to raise the bar

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