Wrestler Vinesh Phogat lashed out at critics on Sunday after her bronze medal win in the 53kg at the World Championships 2022 in Belgrade. She became the first Indian woman to win two medals at the world level but her achievement couldn’t please the critics as she received a lot of flak after her loss to Mongolia’s Khulan Batkhuyag in her opening bout.
After clinching the bronze, Phogat posted her comments for the critics on twitter, captioned it as “I hope everyone will be more responsible about their words.. Focus on what your athletes are doing well! People need to have a better perspective and stop the constant criticism in Indian sports. 🙏🙏"
In her statement, she said that athletes always put their best foot forward but aren’t robots by any means. She also mentioned that it is now a culture where people become experts while sitting at home.
“Athletes are humans and while being an athlete is a huge part of who we are, it doesn’t mean we work like robots every time a tournament is announced. Not sure if this culture is in every country or this is just India where we have so many experts sitting at home," Phogat wrote.
“Every individual, professional or not, has chased hardships, struggles and challenges through their journey. Difference is the world does not comment and criticise them thinking they are experts on those professionals and their careers. But we have many who consider themselves as experts on sports who think they know the efforts, the hardships and what goes into training an athlete," she added.
I hope everyone will be more responsible about their words.. Focus on what your athletes are doing well! People need to have a better perspective and stop the constant criticism in Indian sports. 🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/C7CWCgODCH— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) September 18, 2022
Phogat mentioned that it is very discouraging when people assume that they have the right to comment on a player and take decisions on their career about when to stop or end.
She said, “Why are we as athletes answerable to them about every detail when all athletes get back is comments on how they should train, what they should do instead of support and encouragement when times are tough. Is it very discouraging when people assume they can comment on when athletes should stop or end their career, when they should play and not play. A win always does not mean that an athlete has done anything extra extraordinary and a loss does not mean that the athlete has not tried during that game. Winning and losing is a part of every athlete’s journey and the athletes try hard each time.”
Phogat, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games gold medallist also questioned the fans and asked whether supporters from other countries also criticize the athletes in the same manner whenever they don’t get a medal?
“When we are criticised for not getting a medal every single time do these so called fans experts know what efforts, resources and preparation go into this process. And do they know what goes into the preparation of the athletes they compare us with? Do the supporters from the other countries also criticise their athletes in the same way and manner?"
“It is very easy to comment on these things because for them it’s just one day of their life after watching a match, what they don’t realise is these things can seriously drag along and affect the athletes state, their mood especially in difficult times. Things are great with social media now connecting all fans and supporters but times were simpler when social media was not involved to spread these comments and negative criticism," she added.
Though Phogat went down to Batkhuyag in her shock qualification round loss but she staged a remarkable comeback as she defeated Sweden’s Emma Jonna Malmgren 8-0 in the bronze medal round on Wednesday.
Phogat received quite a lot of criticism after that and in her statement she asked her fellow athletes to mark a full stop to the criticisms and strive to change the culture of unnecessary flak through consistent efforts and dedication.
“It’s true that not everyone will understand your vision and dream, people will question your methods until they see it on the scoreboard. But as athletes, if we give up too early or lose courage too soon, we may never reach that turning point. Here’s to all my fellow athletes who have the courage to repeatedly put themselves through a difficult journey and show compassion towards their dream without fearing people. My dear athletes, we are all on the same page and have similar journeys. Hopefully, someday we will try to change this culture with our consistent efforts, courage and dedication," Phogat concluded.