Sitting in a corner of the Bengaluru Yodhas’ camp, Alyssa Lampe was deep in thought before her bout against Yana Rattigan of Punjab Royals in the Pro Wrestling League on Sunday. Though Rattigan is ranked six places below her at 19th in world rankings for the 48kg category, Lampe knows that she will have tough competition from the British wrestler. And she was not wrong.
It took Rattigan only 25 seconds to attack Lampe and she took her down to open an early lead. But Lampe was equally aggressive and reversed her opponent in the danger zone to tie the bout and later took a four point lead after a take down. Confident of her defence, Lampe once again wet for the attack and after one minute and 50 seconds she led by 12-6 by pulling off a gut-wrench. By the time the first period ended, Lampe led by 14-10. She defended Rattigan’s attack and even evaded a defeat by pin.
The see-saw battle continued in the second period but Lampe always came out on top. She performed four more takedowns on Rattigan to see off an inspiring comeback from her opponent. The wrestler from USA eventually won by technical fall 17 seconds before the full-time of six minutes. This was Bengaluru’s second win of the tie which they won 5-2 to book a semi-final berth of the Pro Wrestling League.
“I have played her before which gave me confidence. She is a thrower and I was ready for an early attack from her,” Lampe said. “But my defence was strong and there was pressure on me. I just had fun,” she added.
‘Fun’ is a word Lampe rarely uses. She even worried about travelling to India for the PWL, as did her parents.”They are very protective of me and they were afraid how I will adapt here. Even I thought I’ll het kidnapped at my arrival,” Lampe laughs. And while she has been trying to mix with her Bengaluru teammates, she admits it hasn’t been easy. “It’s difficult to interact with new people. I am an introvert and happy to stay alone. I don’t go out with anyone,” she says.
Lampe wasn’t always this reticent. A bronze medallist at the 2012 and 2013 World Championships, Lampe says she is struggling to deal with a prolonged slump in her career. She failed to win any medal at the 2014 Worlds and at 2015 Championships she failed to make it to the quarters. “I am at that point of my career where I am trying to find that passion and drive to wrestle again. I can’t remember when I lost that passion but it is not the same when I began wrestling,” she says.
Lampe started wrestling when she was just five years old. She initially partnered her twin brother Anthony for practice. Later she began accompanying him to school tournaments. Lampe wrestled against boys which she felt made her tougher. She steadily made a name for herself and in 2010, as a 22-year-old, Lampe made it to the USA team for the World Championships. It was here that she had her first taste of failure.
“I thought I was good enough to be the best in that category. In the first bout I was about to take down my opponent when she pinned me,” Lampe says. “Probably that was the point when I realised that I was not good enough and I cried a lot and began to think negatively,” she adds.
The negative thoughts became a habit and Lampe says it began to affect her performance. “I am very hard at myself when I lose or have a bad practice. I say bad things to myself and I think that has taken a toll,” she says.
Despite battling the demons of self doubt, Lampe believes she still loves the game. “What I love about wrestling it that it is hard and not everyone can do it. I draw and solve crossword puzzles but wrestling is my love.”
Indeed Lampe’s passion for the game is evident from her daily schedule. She trains for three hours in the morning and for the same period in the evening. In between she simply sleeps. “I sleep for long and don’t like getting disturbed. After training, I just go to my room and take a nap,” she says.
Lampe’s journey has seen a lot of ups and downs and she is searching for a new start. Without a personal coach, she has had a hard time in training but her aim to be at the Olympics keeps her motivated. “Ever since women’s wrestling made a debut at the 2004 Olympics, I always dreamed of winning an Olympic medal. After all the ups and downs of my career, my hope of playing Olympics is still alive,” she says.