Wrestler Vinesh Phogat’s campaign at the Rio Olympics came to a painful end after she suffered an injury half-way into the first period of her 48kg freestyle quarterfinal fight against China’s Sun Yanan. Phogat had taken a 1-0 lead in the quarterfinal contest after the referee had ruled that her Chinese opponent had shown passivity. However, Yanan hit back with a double leg takedown soon after. The attack caught the Indian’s knee in an awkward position and when Phogat hit the mat joint first, it was clear she was in a lot of pain.
Yanan was awarded 2 points for the takedown to take a 2-1 lead but it was clear that the Indian was in no position to continue. With Phogat tended to by a doctor on the mat, the referee raised Yanan’s hand – winner owing to the Indian forfeiting the contest due to injury. The 21-year-old, who was touted as a medal prospect, was grimacing in pain as she was treated for about 5 minutes before being stretchered off.
The seriousness of the injury meant that she was not going to be in a position to fight in the repechage rounds even if the Chinese wrestler had made the finals. As it turned out Yanan was beaten in the semifinals by Eri Tosaka of Japan and made the repechage herself. “We all are awaiting MRI report but she cannot fight again,” India’s Chef de Mission, Rakesh Gupta said. “It seems she has dislocated her right knee. The medical scan will exactly reveal the nature of the injury,” coach Kuldeep Singh of the women’s team was quoted as saying.
Before her unfortunate injury, the Indian had appeared to be in great form going into the contest. She had hardly had to break a sweat to get the better of her Emilia Alina Vuc of Romania 11-0 by technical superiority in her pre-quarterfinal. Although she twisted her right elbow in the first 20 seconds of the bout, Phogat did not let that bother her.
The 21-year-old got into action and without wasting any time flipped Vuc to bag four points. With her opponent struggling, Phogat earned two more points with yet another take down to march ahead with a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period. In the second period, she displayed some very good defensive technique and never let the Romanian get around her. Phogat then pushed Vuc on to the mat to earn another four points and wrap up the match in style in just 5.01 minutes. The Romanian team asked for a referral but Phogat’s four points were retained by the judges.