Tokyo Olympics: Vinesh Phogat had received a message from her husband Somvir before her first match of the Poland Open Ranking Series on Friday. The WhatsApp message was a piece of advice for Vinesh which helped her grab her third title of the year after she beat Khrystyna Bereza of Ukraine. The Indian wrestler says she hopes she can follow this special tip when she steps on the mat for her second Olympics.
Vinesh Phogat proved that her preparations for the Tokyo Games were on track by winning the 53kg gold at the Poland Open, giving herself some crucial ‘mat-time’ ahead of the Olympics. It is the third title of the season for the 26-year-old, who claimed gold medals at the Matteo Pellicone event (March) and Asian Championship (April) earlier. The victory means she is now the top seed at the Tokyo Olympics.
It was a good win, she says but it was that one piece of advice from Somvir that made the difference, “In the first match, I wanted to push more and play more aggressive, it was something my coach did not tell me to do, but my husband did. It was something I did in the final.
“If only I could do it in the first round, I could feel my body more. It would have helped me understand how to go aggressive for full six minutes against tough opponents. If can carry this to the Tokyo Olympics it will be a plus for me,” the world medalist said in the post-match conference.
Interestingly, the first match against Ekaterina Polashchuk of Russia was the only bout where she conceded points. Except for her opening bout against 2019 World bronze (50kg) winner Ekaterina Poleshchuk, Vinesh wasn’t troubled by any of her other rivals as she conceded only two points en route to the top place on the podium.
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Analysing her performance in Poland, Vinesh said she felt her body move better unlike her previous three competitions this year. She felt good mind and body coordination which helped execute her plans well on the mat.
“I did not feel the smoothness in my body in Ukraine or Rome or Almaty. But in Poland, my body felt good. The movement, techniques whatever I was trying to do I executed it. So, whatever expectation I had from this competition, I was able to achieve it. I am happy with the progress as we are heading in the right direction for Tokyo Olympics,” the current Asian Champion said.
She did not concede a single point to Ukraine’s Khrystyna Bereza in the final, winning 8-0. Vinesh took most of her points through double-leg attacks while the 2019 European silver medallist Bereza was on the defensive throughout.
The World bronze winner and Asian Games champion had to battle hard against Poleshchuk before prevailing 6-2 but needed only 75 seconds to pin her American rival Amy Ann Fearnside in the semi-finals.
While she has cemented the top spot, Vinesh feels it is the D-Day that she needs to be in prime form. “The way my body felt here (Poland), if I can only have the same feeling in Tokyo, it will be good. I just want to have the right mind to body combination,” she said adding, “when North Korea was there, there was a lot of competition in the top four. But now with it pulling out, I was sure to be in the top three. But ranking was not in our mind. We just wanted to see our progress and have a feel of the competition“.