Wrestler Vinesh Phogat will return to the merciless mat after nearly seven months since her tragic Tokyo Olympics campaign – she lost in the quarterfinals. In Istanbul from 24th to 27th February, she will take part at the United World Wrestling’s (UWW) Yasar Dogu international meet, which TOI has learned.
The WFI official said, “Vinesh had originally planned to return at the Matteo Pellicone ranking series tournament in Rome from February 4-7. But, the tournament was rescheduled to June by the UWW owing to the spread of Covid-19’s omicron variant. Now, Vinesh will take part in the Istanbul meeting.”
They added, “Vinesh will not compete in her usual weight category of 53kg though. She will take part in 55kg. It could be a one-off decision.”
Upon her departure from the Olympics, the ruling CWG and Asian Games champion were momentarily prohibited by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) over ‘three counts of indiscipline’ in Tokyo, counting her alleged denial to coach with the Indian contingent. Her eviction was behind hoisted by the WFI but the unpalatable dispute took a heavy charge on her mental health, as the wrestler confessed to suffering from depression.
Phogat made an unsuccessful aim to return to competitions after she was enforced to pull out of the World Championships cases here because of dimed sight – in 2017, she had experienced a concussion. Later, she decided to go under the knife for an injury that ached in her right elbow during the Olympics which took her many months to recover. The two-time Olympian still has some intervals to cover before recovering full fitness but the wrestler has set her eyesight on the Yasar Dogu meet for her much-expected comeback. The Wrestler has a busy calendar onwards, including senior Asian wrestling championships (April 1 9to 24), Birmingham CWG (July 28 to August 8), and Hangzhou Asian Games (September 10 to 25), aside from ranking series and invitational tournaments.
It has been studied that other Tokyo-departed wrestlers including silver medallist Ravi Dahiya, bronze winner Bajrang Punia, and Deepak Punia will also count to the competition at the Istanbul meeting. All three were nursing niggles/injuries which enforced them to skip the Nationals, World Championships (Oslo), and Commonwealth meet (Johannesburg).
The officials informed, “Ravi has also decided to participate in a higher weight category – 61kg – in Istanbul. He won’t be competing in his usual weight class of 57kg. Bajrang (65kg) and Deepak (86kg) will participate in their original weight categories.”