Who is Vinesh Phogat?
- Vinesh Phogat is the cousin of famous Phogat sisters -- Geeta and Babita
- She won her first national title in 2012 and first international medal in world championship 2019
- She won a gold for the third consecutive time at the 2022, Commonwealth Games
With her famous surname, it is hard not to notice wrestler Vinesh Phogat. The 26-year-old is the cousin of Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, both successful grapplers and international medal winners. Vinesh added to her family's pride by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in both Commonwealth (2014) and Asian Games (2014). In her most recent achievement, she won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham, winning gold at the Games for the third consecutive time.
Born on August 25, 1994, Vinesh is the daughter of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat's younger brother Rajpal. After Rajpal Phogat's death, when Vinesh was 8, Mahavir took her under his wings. Mahavir and Rajpal had decided to train their daughters in wrestling. This was met with lot of opposition and scepticism from both withing and outside the family. But nothing could deter the Phogats.
Vinesh won her first national title in 2012 and pocketed her first international medal in world championship 2019 and then a Gold in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018. She represented India in the women's freestyle 48 kg category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and won the Gold. Her medal winning spree continued at various competitions and she kept on raking in international honours. She was honoured with India's prestigious Arjuna Award in 2016.
She had suffered a a career-threatening knee ligament tear at the Rio Olympics in 2016. But within two years, she was back in the reckoning winning a Commonwealth Gold. She became the first Indian ever to be nominated for a Laureus Award.
For Tokyo Olympics, lots of medal hopes were pinned on Vinesh she lost to Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus in the quarterfinal of the 53kg women's freestyle wrestling event.
Phogat, who was the top seed in her category, tried all her moves in a bid to rattle Kaladzinskaya's defence. But to no avail. Even her trademark double-leg attack, which Phogat often uses to pun her rivals, did not yield any results. In the early rounds, Phogat had knocked out Rio Olympics bronze-winner and six-time world medallist Sofia Mattsson.
In the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham, the 27-year-old again struck gold. She won the final against Sri Lanka's Chamodya Keshani Maduravalage Don in women's freestyle 53kg Nordic. She locked her opponent after taking an unassailable early 4-0 lead, giving India its third wrestling gold after Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya.
Vinesh is married to wrestler Somvir Rathee of Bakhta Khera village of Jind district. He is a two times gold medalist in the national championship.