Ace wrestler Vinesh Phogat has bagged her first gold medal of the year at the Rome Ranking Series event. The Arjuna awardee defeated Ecuador's Luisa Elizabeth Valverde Melendres in 53kg category at the Matteo Pellicone Memorial on Saturday.
Manohar Lal, Chief Minister of Haryana, congratulated her win on twitter.
Winning her maiden World Championship medal in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in September 2019, Vinesh became the first Indian wrestler to seal a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
On January 1, Vinesh took to Twitter and shared that the past year was filled with lessons and that 2020 holds a lot of promise for her wrestling career.
The 27-year-old from Bhiwani district in Haryana switched to 53kg category after being stretchered off the mat midway during her quarter-final bout, at Rio Olympics 2016, and injuring her knee.
“It was what they call a career-threatening injury. The initial few weeks were hard. All I did was cry, sleep and then cry some more. I had worked so hard throughout that year with multiple wins. And then, just when I was about to reach the pinnacle of my dream, it all fell like a house of cards,” she has said.
2020 comes with a lot of promise with the fact that I am competing at my second Olympic Games taking it to a whole new level!😇 Thank you 2019 for all the wonderful and not so wonderful moments that taught me so much! Wishing all of you a very happy new year!!!— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) January 1, 2020
Since then, Vinesh has acquired a full-time professional coach, Wöller Ákos from Hungary. Backed by a non-profit organisation called the Olympic Gold Quest, she has also gotten a physiotherapist, a nutritionist, and a psychologist.
In her second appearance for Olympics at Tokyo, the wrestler said she hopes to finish what remained incomplete at Rio. Last year, she became the first Indian woman wrestler to earn gold at the Asian Games when she defeated wrestler Yuki Irie from Japan in the women’s 50kg freestyle event in Jakarta.
Also the first Indian athlete to be nominated at the Laureus World Sports Awards, Vinesh comes from a family of wrestlers. Her cousins Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari are world-famous wrestlers, on whom Bollywood film Dangal was based.