On Monday night, as 19-year-old Vinesh prepared for bed, the last thing she did before tucking herself in for the night was to place a phone call to her cousin, Geeta Phogat. The daily ritual, a staple for Vinesh since she began wrestling almost 10 years ago did not go as she would have expected.
“I was thinking that Geeta didi would give me some encouragement. It is my first Commonwealth Games and I was quite nervous last night. But all that Geeta didi told me was, gold leke aa jaana nahi toh bahut maar padegi,” she grins.
The 19-year-old’s relief after winning the gold medal in a tough title clash against Yana Rattigan of England was that she had managed to escape a beating.
Having lost her father when she was nine, Vinesh has been brought up by her uncle on the family’s staple diet of wrestling. She says it was only natural that she took up wrestling after marveling at the exploits of older cousins Geeta and Babita, both Delhi CWG medallists.
Surviving a scare
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Vinesh, however, wasn’t pleased with her performance on the mat though she won the gold. She prevailed 11-8 but not before surviving a huge scare when Rattigan mounted a spirited comeback claiming four quick points with almost half a minute to play.
“I am really sad that I gave away eight points to my opponent. I thought I was completely in control once I had taken the lead and that made me over-confident. I am sure Geeta didi will have seen that and she won’t be happy. How can I even dream of competing at the Olympics if I give away such easy points here,” she says.
Vinesh was hardly troubled in the earlier rounds, recording 7-1 and 12-1 victories.
“I had prepared quite well when I got to Glasgow. Every night I had been studying the style and techniques of a lot of wrestlers in my pool. Geeta didi has also fought against a few of these girls and her tips on how to tackle the Canadian (Jasmine Mian) were crucial,” she says.