When it comes to a relationship between an athlete and a coach, the rules are pretty clear cut. The coach goes by his experience and instinct to guide his apprentice on how to approach a match. The athlete takes the inputs of the coach and ensures that he/she does not do anything wrong which might result in a big defeat. Most of the time this story is true. There are some who do not follow the norm. Vinesh Phogat, who recently clinched a medal for the first time in the World Wrestling Championship, has done the opposite.
Vinesh has revealed that she altered the strategy devised by the coaches for the key Olympic qualification match. Coach Woller Akos had advised Vinesh during the bout against Sarah Ann Hildebrandt to "stay away from Sarah Ann Hildebrandt, block her right arm and protect the legs". Vinesh revealed she did the opposite.
"Coaches were suggesting something else but I felt something different on the mat and changed tactics accordingly. I felt she was getting in, but because I was not conceding point, it was exhausting her. So, I thought let's lure her into leg attacks more and stay solid in defense to completely wear her out. I let her come in but held her off. It worked for me. I knew how much strength she had compared to mine," Vinesh told PTI in an interview after claiming the 53kg category bronze and the Tokyo Olympics berth in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Vinesh will now be gunning for a medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and she will be determined to overcome the pain of Rio 2016 in which a broken leg dented her chances of a medal. The world championship medal was missing from her CV for long and having secured that, Vinesh plans to have a better strategy to break her Olympic rut.
"It's the first Olympic qualification tournament and a world championship too, so every athlete came here well-prepared and with a different mind set. Taking a medal from this group is definitely big for me. It's a relief because now I have a lot of time to prepare for the Olympics. And it's a bronze only. I want to convert it to a gold and also win the Olympic medal," Vinesh said.
It was a strange tournament for Vinesh, who lost out on the title when she lost to Mayu Mukaida from Japan. Vinesh conceded just three points in next four bouts. Incidentally, Mukaida lost to Yong Mi Pak, whom Vinesh has defeated twice. The Indian wrestler said different tactics were needed to achieve victory in a strong field.
"I was not nervous because I had to wrestle strong opponents. It is a World Championship and qualifying for the Olympics was very important for me, so that nervousness was there. If I lose to a strong opponent, I don't mind that. Like I lost to Mukaida, she is good and I tried. Nervousness is good sometimes. To beat Japan, you have to have a strong strategy. During the Asian Championship, I tried different things and at the Worlds, something else but I have not been successful on both counts. We have to find out the way to break down Japan mentally," Vinesh said.