Commonwealth Games 2014: Phogat sisters reap rewards of years of toil

New Delhi: The Phogat sisters -- Babita and Vinesh -- won a gold each in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games, which was a culmination of a long and challenging journey that started a decade back, but their hunger to do well at the international level has not satiated as yet.

Babita pocketed a gold in women`s 55kg freestyle while her younger cousin Vinesh bagged the yellow metal in 48kg category, but it was a long and challenging journey for both.

Motivated by her cousins Geeta and Babita, 19-year-old Vinesh became the youngest to win a medal at her debut tournament when she won a gold at Glasgow.

"It was not an easy journey. I have been training for the last 10-12 years with my cousins and coaches before I could compete in an international tournament and win a gold medal," said Vinesh on the sidelines of a function organised by JSW to felicitate eight medal winners at the Glasgow Games.

Hailing from Balali village in Haryana, Vinesh is third in line among the famous Phogat sisters. Geeta, who was the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for London Olympics, missed out on the Commonwealth Games because of an injury.

"I left my studies after 8th standard and solely concentrated on wrestling. Today I feel happy that we get more recognition and respect than even the doctors and engineers. I feel happy when highly educated people also line up to meet us," Vinesh said on a lighter vein.

She admitted that she was lucky to get support from her family and parents, unlike so many other girls who are forced to get married.

"Girls do come to us and say that they also want to do wrestling but most of them are forced to get married. Some are either already married or are set to get married. So family`s support is extremely important," she insisted.

"Then there are girls who come and practice hard for a couple of months and expect to win a medal straightaway. But when that doesn`t happen, they leave the sport mid-way. One needs to be patient and keep working hard," Vinesh said.

Asked about her plans of marriage, Vinesh said, "Puri zindagi shaadi karke hi toh rehna hai (Marriage can wait for the time being because once I am married, I will be married for all my life), there is no hurry. I first want to win a few medals for my country."

Apart from Geeta, Babita and Vinesh there are three more sisters, all of whom are also in wrestling.

Babita, 24, said she never fall short of partners while practising as she always finds her family members in the `akhara`.

"We train together. We never have to look outside for partners. We help and support each other," Babita, who won a bronze at the 2012 World Wrestling Championships, said.

Asked who will win out of her and Vinesh if the two happen to get into a contest, the more experience Babita said, "Main Vinesh ko hara dungi (I will easily defeat Vinesh)."

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