Her Olympic dreams may have been crushed way too early in 2016, but it did change Vinesh Phogat's life around. The freak knee injury in her bout against China’s Sun Yanan had done enough damage to leave her in trauma. But it made her realize the importance of things like rest, nutrition and sleep. “I used to think earlier that if I practice hard enough, then I don’t need to worry about anything else,” she’d said before the Asian Games.
But had she continued to follow that mantra, we wouldn’t have got to see Vinesh 2.0 on Monday morning in her opening bout against Yanan. The 50kg Freestyle grappler was fearless to start with, taking an early lead. But most importantly, she was wrestling smartly, not once allowing the Chinese to get to her legs, the memories of Rio perhaps still fresh in her mind. In what was a sensational move in the first round, Vinesh pinned her opponent down aggressively, the Indian took a massive 8 point lead, and there was little Sun Yanan could do to answer.
The route to a medal, and a gold at that, is not easy. Vinesh will have the world champion from Japan, Yuki Irei, to tackle. But her stellar show against Yanan will give the kind of confidence boost that beating no other opponent would give her. Interestingly, Vinesh had gone down to the Chinese in the Pro Wrestling League too.
Vinesh Phogat’s confidence after the win against Olympic bronze medallist Sun Yannan was well and truly showed in her body language in the quarters too. Her leg attacks were tremendous, and her reflexes were superb. She won 10-0 on technical superiority yet again.
Vinesh Phogat was well and truly looking like she was going the Bajrang way in the semi-final. A superb move to roll her opponent over to race to a massive 10 point lead that the Uzbeki had no answer to was executed. She has only grown in confidence ever since her comeback and easily looked the best among the Indian girls.