India’s sports ministry, on Friday, sanctioned a 40-day-long training camp for Tokyo Olympics-bound Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat in Poland and Hungary.
The approval was done under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) – the Indian government’s flagship programme dedicated to identifying Olympic medal hopefuls and helping them train by providing financial and infrastructural aid. Phogat is in the TOPS elite list of athletes.
The European camp, planned by Vinesh Phogat’s personal coach Woller Akos, will see her train at the Vasas Sports Club in Budapest, Hungary, from December 28 to January 24 followed by a stint at the Olympic Training Centre in Szczyrk, Poland, from January 24 to February 5.
It will also give her the opportunity to spar with many European wrestlers in her weight category.
“As a wrestler I need to know my level and getting to spar with good wrestlers will be very helpful in assessing where I stand,” Vinesh said about the camp.
Barring Woller Akos, Vinesh will be accompanied by her sparring partner Priyanka Phogat and her physiotherapist Poornima Raman Ngomdir.
The programme is estimated to cost approximately Rs 15.51 lakhs (about USD 21,000) and includes airfare, local transportation, boarding and lodging charges and out of pocket allowance. The entire sum will be incurred by the government.
Akos believes the exposure will help improve Vinesh Phogat’s technical and tactical aspects and prepare her for a medal charge at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Phogat has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 53kg event after winning the bronze medal at the 2019 world championships.
The camp will also provide some much-needed competitive edge to Vinesh’s preparations for Tokyo.
Vinesh, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, last wrestled at a competitive event at the Asian Wrestling Championships in February held in New Delhi before the COVID-19 pandemic halted most sporting activities. She had won a bronze medal.