2016 was a big year for biopics in Bollywood, with movies like ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’ and ‘Rustom’ earning boatloads of cash at the box-office, shattering numerous records on the way. While biopics have been a huge success in Bollywood for quite some time, no movie engrossed its audience more than the Aamir Khan-starrer ‘Dangal’.
The movie was based on the real-life story of Indian wrestlers Geeta and Babita Phogat’s trials and tribulations in living their father (Mahavir Singh Phogat)’s dream of bringing home a gold medal for India. The critically acclaimed blockbuster is not only the highest grossing Indian movie of all time but also brought to light the inspirational and triumphant story of the Phogat sisters. While the movie was solely based on Mahavir Singh’s own two daughters, its sequel (we know it’s coming) might be based on his niece, Vinesh Phogat.
Hailing from a family full of wrestling superstars, Vinesh also followed in her sisters’ path and has been a serial winner at the international stage. Like Geeta and Babita, Vinesh, too, spent the majority of her childhood training under the tutelage of Mahavir Singh. She lost her father at the tender age of 9 and so uncle Mahavir stepped up to be the father-figure in her life. While she dominated at the Nationals in the early part of this decade, she also met fellow wrestler Somvir Rathee, who she married in December of 2018.
Her career, though, really took off at the 2013 Asian Games, where she won bronze in the 52 kg freestyle category. She improved on her performance months later at the Commonwealth Championships, earning a silver after losing to Odunayo Adekuoroye in the final. Her experience at those two events would lead to her third medal in the following year, as she captured gold at 2014 Commonwealth Games, following in the footsteps of sister Geeta Phogat, who also claimed the top prize in 2010.
A bronze at the 2014 Asian Games followed by a silver and a bronze at the 2015 and 2016 Asian Championships, respectively, was seemingly the perfect preparation for Vinesh ahead of the Rio Olympics, however, in the quarterfinals against Sun Yanan, just a match away from a guaranteed medal bout, Vinesh suffered a devastating ACL tear, which was only diagnosed upon her return to Mumbai, costing her a shot at that elusive Olympic silverware.
The injury would rule her out of action for a while. But, like the saying goes, the comeback is always better than the setback. And in Vinesh’s case, it was laced in glory. On her return to the mat in August 2017 at the Asian Championship, she narrowly missed out on the top prize and settled for a silver. A year later, in February, she went back-to-back, winning silver yet again, losing to China’s Lei Chun in Kyrgyzstan in the final of the Asian Championships. After falling short at two straight events, Vinesh wasn’t to be denied at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, as she won her second Commonwealth gold medal, emulating sister Babita Kumari, who has also won it twice.
Vinesh added to her ever-increasing medal tally with a bronze at the recently concluded World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, her first at the event. At just 25, Vinesh has already cemented her place as an Indian wrestling great. However, her redemption story wouldn’t be complete till she returns home with an Olympic medal around her neck. With Tokyo 2020 just around the corner, Vinesh is preparing harder than ever. And if she were to win an Olympic medal and become the first in her family to do so, we might just get an adaptation of her story on the big screen.
Written by: Sportz Interactive