Eye on Tokyo Video games, Vinesh cautious of Covid


Vinayak Padmadeo
Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 23

Champion wrestler Vinesh Phogat truly believes in the adage ‘once bitten twice shy’. Covid-19 struck her last year just before the Arjuna Awards ceremony, where she was to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting honour. Even though she was asymptomatic, she was away from her training schedule for over a month and a half.

Now, even as Covid-19 cases are surging — India reported over three lakh cases on Thursday — the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist has adapted a very cautious approach towards training and interaction with fellow wrestlers, especially in India.

Currently training in Kharkhoda in Haryana, Vinesh has been avoiding public interactions and is only hitting the gymnasium or the mat when the attendance is very low. Further, she has stopped grappling with other wrestlers, choosing to only spar with her sister Priyanka.

Staying apart

“I have been generally keeping away from others. I am only going to the gym or other areas when there are very few there,” Vinesh said during a media interaction arranged by the Sports Authority of India.

“In fact I am only sparring with my sister. I do not want to miss training for even a single day as it sets you back for days. Imagine if I get it (Covid) again all my training and hard work will go waste,” the 26-year-old added.

The 2018 Asian Games gold medallist further said that she and other athletes have adapted to training and competition under the cloud of Covid-19. “Wearing masks was bothersome at the start but now we all realise that it is a necessity as you never know how long this may last… A year or two years or maybe four years,” she explained.

“Other than that all is OK as teams get their full schedule about training and weigh-ins much in advance,” she added.

Work on recovery

Vinesh kickstarted the year with three back-to-back gold medals. She won the Coaches and Wrestlers Memorial tournament in Kiev, Ukraine, before winning the top spot at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series in Rome. Last week she won her maiden gold medal in the Asian Championships in Almaty after beating Meng Hsuan Hsieh of Chinese Taipei.

Despite the hat trick of golds, Vinesh says she has to work hard, especially in her recovery process after the weigh-ins. “There are a few things I have to work on. Recovery is where I think I need to work as I found out that post the weigh-ins I struggled to hold my own against an opponent with superior strength,” Vinesh said.

“I had a prior condition in 2019 where my blood pressure used to drop drastically after the weigh-ins because I used to work really hard to make weight. I would get blurry-eyed and the performance on the mat would decrease. I suffered the same thing during the Asian Championships. I may have to look at my diet and other things to fix it,” she added.



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