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Don’t mind being called arrogant and over-confident

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Stubborn by her own admission, wrestler Vinesh Phogat doesn’t mind being called arrogant for it since the attitude comes in handy to intimidate rivals on the mat.

“I am very stubborn, since childhood. If I feel something is right, even if that is wrong, I will be very stubborn about that and I make sure people agree with me even if I am wrong sometimes,” said India’s first woman wrestler to claim an Asian Games gold medal. “If someone explains with love and proves that my thought process is wrong and I also start to realise that, then I concede and step back.”

And what about the perception of being arrogant? “Yes people say that but I know what’s inside me. And if it helps me on the mat, I don’t bother.

It helps me on the mat. People say it’s over-confidence but for me it’s belief. I don’t get intimidated and your opponent also notices the body language. Some people work on it but for me it’s God gift.”

The 24-year-old Commonwealth Games champion recently got married to fellow grappler Somvir Rathee and is determined to end the stereotype of women’s careers getting affected by their marital status.

Setting an example

“People say that after marriage, we lose spark and fire but I want to break this myth. I want to take this fear out of girls that marriage is a barrier.

I want to be an example, so I decided to marry early,” Vinesh said. “Of course you need support of your partner. There are a few in our society who do not believe in (love) relationships (without marriage) so they will ask why don’t you get married and some will say why marry so early? Now Olympics is a major competition and I have all the support of Somvir.”

Vinesh, the first Indian athlete ever to be nominated for Laureus World Sports Award, also insisted that Indian wrestlers have greater self-belief. “I feel India have 4-5 strong contenders, who can beat any wrestler in the world. I won’t take names but we can win 2-3 Olympic medals. The mindset has changed.

Earlier people used to just look for participation or win a round at the Worlds but now medals are a possibility for all. We have started becoming technically smart while earlier we just played a power game, it’s giving results.”

Vinesh said Somvir has played a huge role in her success. “If Somvir was not there, Vinesh would not be what Vinesh is today. He is one person who has contributed to my success more than my family.”

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