That Vinesh Phogat is her own person was proved yet again when she altered the strategy devised by the coaches for the key Olympic qualification match and came out trumps.
Ahead of her world championships’ Olympic qualifying bout, the precise tactics suggested by coach Woller Akos were to “stay away from Sarah Ann Hildebrandt, block her right arm and protect the legs”. Vinesh said she did exactly the opposite.
“Coaches were suggesting something else but I felt something different on the mat and changed tactics accordingly. I felt she was getting in, but because I was not conceding point, it was exhausting her,” Vinesh told PTI in an interview after claiming the 53kg category bronze and the Tokyo Olympics berth here.
“So, I thought let’s lure her into leg attacks more and stay solid in defense to completely wear her out. I let her come in but held her off. It worked for me. I knew how much strength she had compared to mine,” she said.
The American number one got hold off of Vinesh’s right leg in the second repechage bout five times but could not convert those moves into points.
“Even if she had scored a few points, she would have got tired because I have beaten that Korean girl twice.
“But yes, If I had won against the Japanese, the results would have been different. My category is such that five-six wrestlers can beat each other on any given day. Depends on the day and the body language,” she explained.
Vinesh is someone who commands respect from her opponents and the best in business. Does she get nervous?
“I was not nervous because I had to wrestle strong opponents. It is a World Championship and qualifying for the Olympics was very important for me, so that nervousness was there,” she said.
“If I lose to a strong opponent, I don’t mind that. Like I lost to Mukaida, she is good and I tried. Nervousness is good sometimes,” she added.
Vinesh said though she has started to do well in the 53kg category, it still is new category her and figuring out stronger wrestlers like Mukaida will take some time.
Vinesh had lost to her at the Asian Championship also.
“To beat Japan, you have to have a strong strategy. During the Asian Championship, I tried different things and at the Worlds, something else but I have not been successful on both counts. We have to find out the way to break down Japan mentally,” she said.
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