For Vinesh Phogat, the learning process never ends

The Indian wrestler also shared how she’s improving with every bout against Japan’s Mayu Mukaida.

By Olympic Channel Writer ·

A loss at the recently-concluded Asian Wrestling Championships is only a part of the learning process in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics, believes Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat.

The first woman Indian wrestler to win gold at both the Commonwealth and Asian Games, Vinesh Phogat’s hoodoo against Mayu Mukaida continued at the Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi last week after losing her 53kg bout 2-6 to the Japanese world no. 3.

It was her third loss to Mukaida although the margin of defeat keeps decreasing with each passing bout. 

Vinesh Phogat’s first bout saw her lose 0-10 against the Japanese grappler, while her second witnessed her falling to a 0-7 loss at the hands of Mukaida.

Vinesh Phogat won bronze at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships to seal a quota place for Tokyo 2020. Photo UWW

Cracking the Mukaida puzzle

After her bout on Friday, Vinesh insisted that the narrowing of her loss margins against Mukaida, who has more experience in the category that the Indian wrestler, are signs of improvement.

"For me, this is all part of the learning process. Japan is on top, so beating wrestlers from there is not easy. The training and the process that I follow is showing on the mat," she told reporters after winning bronze with a dominant 10-0 victory over Vietnam's Thi Ly Kieu.

"I performed as I had expected. There is still time to make myself better (before the 2020 Olympics) and that's all there is in my hands, which is to work as hard as I can.

“The rest is up to what happens on that given day. If the match is against a strong opponent, then even the smallest of mistakes can be costly and the same goes for the opponent also," Vinesh Phogat added.

Despite the loss to Mukaida, the Indian wrestler was happy to be getting closer to cracking the puzzle posed by the Japanese wrestler.

"We have faced each other three times and we both understand each other's game better now," she pointed out. “I lost, but to be honest, I am happy that I got to face an opponent who forces me to be at my very best."

“When the level is so high, you win some and you lose some," she added.

Strong ranking bodes well for Vinesh Phogat’s Olympic draw

One of four Indian wrestlers along with Deepak Punia (86kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg) to have booked a quota for the 2020 Olympics, Vinesh Phogat’s good ranking going to Tokyo could give her a favourable draw.

"It's good that I don't have to worry about qualifying and everything that comes with it. The pressure certainly affects you," she said.

Considered a medal contender at the 2020 Olympics, she is bound to eventually take on the top wrestlers in her weight category.

"It's not easy at all, to keep strategies for different wrestlers. The learning process never ends, and I think it should never end," said Vinesh Phogat.

"Every day is important. If I start thinking that I have to hurry up in my preparations, I will only end up missing out on things," she said.

One of India’s biggest hopes for a medal at the 2020 Olympics, Vinesh Phogat, who hails from wrestling royalty in her country will be eager to make not just her family but the entire nation proud in a few months.