Commonwealth Games 2022 gold winner Vinesh Phogat said that she nearly quit wrestling after failing a second time to win a medal at the Olympics in Tokyo.
While a knee injury in the quarterfinals dashed her hopes in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Vinesh again crashed out in the last eight stages in Tokyo, despite entering her weight category as the world No.1.
Vinesh admitted that the two disappointments pushed her to the brink of quitting wrestling, long before she reinvented herself in the recently concluded games at Birmingham.
Phogat defeated Sri Lanka’s Chamodya Keshani Maduravalage Don to win the gold medal in wrestling at the CWG event. She thrashed her opponent by a 3-0 win record in women’s 53kg freestyle wrestling.
The 27-year-old Phogat scripted history by becoming the 1st Indian woman to win Gold at both CWG & Asian Games. She also became the 1st Indian woman to bag 3 consecutive Gold at the Commonwealth Games.
“Definitely, you can say that (Vinesh 2.0 reloaded). I have managed to cross a big mental barrier. I almost gave up wrestling because in two Olympics I couldn’t win a medal. The Olympics is the biggest stage for an athlete. But my family always backed me, they always trust in my abilities,” the star wrestler said.
“When I was low, I met Modi ji (Narendra Modi) and he gave me motivation. He said ‘we trust you and you can do it. That reignited the spark in me.”
Vinesh said the support she got from her family and fans also kept her motivated to keep going.
“Since childhood I like sports. I always play from my heart, I don’t have any pressure from anyone… I feel happy when I win. I always have had a passion to win. My family is always supportive of what I am doing,” she said.
She said for any athlete nothing is bigger than getting rewards for hard work.
“The most important thing for an athlete is to replicate the thing in the mat which you did in training. I couldn’t do that in Tokyo and I am still very sad about it.
“But the hard work I have put in the last year, the way I have managed myself, I wanted to prove myself… The support which I got from all quarters was also at the back of my mind, I can’t disappoint myself.
“Some people whom I have never met, never knew them, they supported me, backed me, I just thought I have to rise again for them,” Vinesh said.