New Delhi : One went on to make history while the other missed out on much deserved success but there is no hint of jealousy in the equation between Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat and they continue to benefit from each other by training together.
Sakshi scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal when she bagged a bronze at the Rio Games last year, but Vinesh was unfortunate to bow out of the mega-event with a freak knee injury.
However, Vinesh feels the success at the Olympics has not gone to Sakshi’s head at all and she still prefers to practice with her.
“Sakshi has not changed at all after the Olympic medal. She remains the same and so is our equation. We have known each other from our cadet days. Our bond is very strong. She still looks forward to practising with me. Post Olympics, when I was recovering from my injury, Sakshi would keep asking me when I would return to full fitness and start practicing with her,” said Vinesh.
Sakshi fights in the 58kg category, while Vinesh’s weight category is 48kg.
Elaborating on how the two wrestlers, with a difference of 10kg between them, benefit by training with one another, Vinesh said, “We have been practice partners for a long time now. Our difference in weight helps us.
“As Sakshi has higher weight, I try to match her strength and that helps me in increasing my power and stamina. On the other hand, my agility helps her improve her speed. Both of us motivate each other all the time,” explained the 22-year-old.
After a nine-month injury lay-off, Vinesh, one of the Phogat sisters, made a comeback to the mat with a bang and clinched a silver medal at the recently-concluded Asian Championship.
Vinesh fought in the 55kg category at the Championship, the heaviest weight division she has ever competed in at any tournament, because her doctors and coach Kuldeep Malik had advised her not to lose too much weight post her recovery as that could have weakened her muscles.
“I have been asked to lose weight slowly. I don’t want to fight in 55kg. At the World Championship in August, I want to be back in my original weight category of 48kg,” said the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold-medallist.
Inspite of participating in a higher weight category at the Asian Championship, Vinesh came up with a commendable performance.
Having won her quarterfinal and semifinal bouts without breaking a sweat, she gave a tough fight to Japan’s Sae Nanjo in the gold-medal round before going down 4-8 in a closely- fought contest.
The wrestler is thankful to the medical staff of her sponsor — JSW Sports — for bringing her back on her feet at a time when she thought that her career was all but over.
Praising their efforts, Vinesh said: “I am happy to be back on the mat. I thought I would never be able to make a come back again. I had a feeling as if that was the end of my career.
“But the physios helped me to not just attain fitness but also gave me confidence that I could be my previous self and compete with the same intensity,” said Vinesh.