Amid talks about upcoming Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal, former wrestler and coach Mahavir Singh Phogat made his way to the launch of his authorised biography Akhada in Chandigarh on Thursday. Sports journalist Saurabh Duggal released the biography. The 55-year-old former wrestler was also stopped by daughters Sangeeta Phogat and Ritu Phogat to pose for a selfie.
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In the last one year, Mahavir’s journey as a coach and wrestler has been in the limelight with Aamir Khan portraying his character in his upcoming movie Dangal.
With elder daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita training at Bengaluru, Mahavir knows that his task was not over yet and getting an Olympic medal was still his priority.
“Getting India an Olympic medal. Yehi tha mera dream and hamesha rahega. Unfortunately Vinesh was injured during the Rio Olympics and her dream ended, but they will be ready for 2020 Olympics. That’s one medal, which is missing at our home and that’s what we talk about each day. When I started training Geeta and Babita, people in my village laughed at us but now people know us because of wrestling,” said Mahavir.
Mahavir started training his daughters at Balali village in 2000 and when his brother Rajpal was killed in a dispute in 2003, Mahavir took up his daughters – Vinesh and Priyanka – under his training and the Phogat home in Balali would become a wrestling training centre for girls.
Akhada traces Mahavir’s early days to the disappointment faced by Vinesh in Rio Olympics, where she had to exit after a knee injury.
“I wanted people to remember my daughters like Kalpana Chawla. And I believed in training them in whatever conditions we got. We still do not have any wrestling mat provided by the state government at our village and cash awards since 2011 are pending. Mitti aur mat main din aur raat ka farak hai par acha pehelwan wahi hai jo dono ka ustad bane,” Mahavir said, who did the launch on his eldest daughter Geeta’s birthday.
Sangeeta is the youngest of the Phogat sisters to take up wrestling and Ritu, the third eldest of the sisters, became the national champion in 48kg last year and won the gold medal in last month’s Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in Singapore.
“When our father trains, it’s only about training and we cannot avoid that at any cost. If the training starts at 3am, he is at the akhada at 2am and in the evening too, he reaches one hour prior to the training. When we train on the national camps, it is training time for us and when we come home for rest, it is again training time,” said Sangeeta.