India’s Vinesh Phogat will mark her return to competition after a year when she competes in a Ukraine wrestling meet late in February.
The competition, to be held in Kyiv, is one of the five wrestling meets in the coming months that has been chosen for the Indian wrestler’s preparation for the Tokyo Olympics later this year. Vinesh last competed at the Asian championships held in New Delhi in February before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Vinesh will be in action at the XXIV Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial in Kyiv starting February 26 and will then head for the Matteo Pellicone Rome Rankings in Rome in early March. Next will be the Asian championship in Kazakhstan in mid-April, the Poland Open in June and the Grand Prix in Spain early in July before heading for the Olympics.
Having qualified for the Olympic Games at the world championships in September 2019, Vinesh Phogat is currently training in Europe in a 40-day-long camp, which started in Hungary.
The training has been sanctioned by the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) — India’s flagship programme that supports Olympic medal hopefuls.
From the Vapas Sports Club in Budapest, Vinesh Phogat has moved to the Olympic Training Centre in Szczyrk, Poland for an international camp until February 4. From there, she will head into competition.
As of now, Vinesh Phogat is adding new moves to her repertoire and sparring with wrestlers to assess her readiness for the Tokyo Olympics under coach Woller Akos.
“I would like to see a new technique on the mat but first I need her basic techniques to come back,” Woller Akos toldWrestling TV. “She is working very well now. She is coming back to the top of her performance slowly. The main focus is on physical performance and the basic techniques."
Vinesh Phogat is the onlyIndian woman wrestler to have secured a quota (53kg) at the Olympics. She opted to skip the Individual World Cup last month citing the quality of partners and the ongoing senior women’s national wrestling championship to train in Europe.
Top performers from the senior nationals are likely to make it to the Indian team for the Asian Olympic qualifiers in April.“We are lucky (Vinesh) hasalready qualified for the Olympics,” Akos said. “We have more time for preparation for the Olympics through the five competitions. The others, meanwhile, will only prepare for competitions.”