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'Unorthodox' Vinesh Phogat a puzzle for even world class wrestlers

The 25-year-old Indian on Wednesday pinned two-time medallist Maria Prevolaraki to win bronze in the 53kg.

Sep 18, 2019, 11.58 PM IST
Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan): She is unorthodox. She is like a gyroscope, which does not lose balance.

That's how world-class wrestlers and coaches are describing Vinesh Phogat, who has made her CV more impressive by adding a World Championship bronze alongside the CWG and the Asian Games gold medals.

The 25-year-old Indian on Wednesday pinned two-time medallist Maria Prevolaraki to win bronze in the 53kg.

Vinesh also downed Rio Olympic medallist Sofia Mattsson and world number one Sarah Ann Hildebrandt on her way to the podium.

And mind it. This is second time she did it this season, having beaten both of them at Dan Kolov and Yasar Dogu.

If her 0-7 defeat against Japanese Mayu Mukaida is put aside, Vinesh conceded just three points in her other four bouts.

"She is a great opponent, somebody I respect a lot. She is little unorthodox. It was not going to be a typical match, technique wise," said Hildebrandt of Vinesh.

Hildebrandt, the silver medallist from the previous championships in Budapest, said Vinesh's style was such that she could not break her defense.

"My finish was not as good as it should have been, my shot was okay. I was getting in, that's fine. I needed to find a different approach to my finish though, ending at the same spot.

"A mixture of that and her being a little unorthodox, her defense was not ordinary, I was not sure I needed to figure out things," said Hildebrandt.

Now what is being orthodox in wrestling?

It is, when you turn your defence into attack. You find yourself in a tricky position to concede points but you actually end up taking it from the opponent.

"Vinesh's balance is remarkable. It's like a cat. You throw a cat from the top of a building and it still lands on toes, safely. That's the balance of Vinesh," India's foreign coach Andrew Cook further explained.

"It's uncanny. It's like gyroscope. It's something which comes natural to athletes. You can't develop it."

China's Sun Yanan, fighting against whom she fractured her leg during the Rio Olympics, said Vinesh's ability to improvise is impressive.

"I have fought with her four times and each time she was different. She is sharper and has added more strength to her body. She is as good as Japanese wrestlers, if not better," said Sun.

Vinesh had pinned Hildebrandt in February at Dan Kolov event but the American said it did not affect her strategy today.

"I did not let that hold me back. The shots I took then, the same shots I took today. So different finishes, chipping away. I am learning. I knew it was going to be interesting match. I made mistakes," she said.

Vinesh's personal coach Woller Akos, who has been training her since February this season, explained how they plotted the fall of Hildebrandt.

"We had asked Vinesh to move right and block Sarah's right hand. What it did was that it put Vinesh further away from Sarah, not letting her attack. It also meant that Vinesh could go for her attacks," said the Hungarian.

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