Vinesh Phogat has been for a while Indian wrestling’s star performer along with Bajrang Punia. True to her billing as one of India’s top medal contenders at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, Vinesh on Wednesday became the first Indian wrestler to qualify for next year’s sporting extravaganza after a crushing win over a fancied Sarah Ann Hildebrandt at the ongoing Wrestling World Championships. With this win over the world number 1, Vinesh is back in the reckoning for a bronze medal finish at the event.
The 25-year old is the cousin of the popular ‘Dangal sisters’ Geeta and Babita and was coached by Mahavir Singh Phogat. She though has outperformed her cousins at the international arena, bringing in laurels for the country and rewriting the history books.
Here are five big milestones in her career:
1) Asian Games 2018 Gold medal: Vinesh reached the pinnacle of sporting glory when she became India’s first even woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the continental Games. She beat Japan’s Yuki Irie in Women’s 50 kg Freestyle Wrestling gold medal match 6-2.
2) Commonwealth Games 2018 Gold medal: In a depleted field of only 4 wrestlers, Vinesh came out on top after getting the better of Canada’s Jessica MacDonald.
3) Commonwealth Games 2014 Gold medal: Vinesh left her mark as a 20-year old in the Glasgow Games with a fabulous show of technique on the mat. After solid performances in the quarters and semis against seasoned campaigners, she beat home favourite Yana Rattigan of England 3-1 in the final to bring home the yellow metal.
4) Laureus World Sports Awards – Nominated for best comeback of the year: The wrestler created history when she became the first Indian athlete to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus Awards. She lost out to Tiger Woods eventually but garnered international acclaim for her great fightback after a career threatening knee injury during the 2016 Rio Olympics.
5) 2019 Asian Wrestling Championships Bronze medal: Vinesh beat World Championships bronze medallist Qianyu Pang of China to take home the bronze medal in her category. It was a great performance considering teh high level of competition.