New mom Geeta Phogat determined to make Olympics comeback at Tokyo

Indian wrestler Geeta Phogat sees the postponement of the Olympics as her window of opportunity to qualify for the Summer Games.

By Utathya Nag

Having become a mother in December, Indian wrestler Geeta Phogat is already eyeing a new challenge – qualification to the Tokyo Olympics.

The first Indian woman wrestler to win a Commonwealth Games gold in 2010, Geeta Phogat is one of the premier women’s wrestlers in the country. 

She, however, had put her wrestling career on the back-burner for a while due to her pregnancy and the post-birth care of her son, Arjun.

Given the situation, qualification for the Tokyo Games looked unlikely but the postponement of the Olympics to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has presented her with a new lease of life.

“I have gained some weight during pregnancy, so my priority would be to get fit. And after that, whatever qualifying tournament is there, I will participate and try to book a place for the Olympics,” she told table tennis player Mudit Dani in a live chat on Instagram.

“Since the Olympics have been postponed, this one year will give me sufficient time to prepare for the trials and the qualification events,” she added.

Post-pregnancy challenges

Geeta hinted Tokyo has been in her mind for some time now but admits that motherhood presented its own set of challenges.

“I started fitness training sometime back, but the doctor advised me to wait as I have to feed Arjun. But since the last couple of months, I have started getting into the groove.

“Training is difficult without an opponent so I'm doing whatever exercises are possible at home,” she stated.

Geeta Phogat with son Arjun

Geeta Phogat’s Tokyo chances

India already has four wrestling quotas confirmed for Tokyo.

For men’s wrestling, Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86kg) have already qualified while Geeta’s sister Vinesh Phogat (53kg) is the only woman wrestler to have guaranteed herself a place in Tokyo.

However, India can clinch more quotas at the now-deferred Asian Olympic qualifiers to be held in China in March 2021.

With the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announcing that fresh trials will be held to select the Indian contingent for Tokyo, the window is still open for Geeta to book her ticket to Tokyo.

Geeta Phogat holds a special place in India’s Olympic history. When she made the cut for the London Games in 2012, she became the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics.

Having missed out on a place for Rio 2016, the 31-year-old is eager to make it to Tokyo for another shot at her Olympic dream.