Geeta Phogat’s desire to wrestle in Tokyo again backed by Olympian moms

Olympian Geeta Photo is looking forward to returning to the mat eight months after giving birth to her son.

By Naveen Peter

With an eye on the Tokyo Olympics, new mom Geeta Phogat has signalled her intentions of returning to the mat.

And encouraging the Indian wrestler are a couple of Olympic medallists who have been in a similar position.

These include three-time Olympic medallist and mother of two Mariya Stadnik and Natalia Vorobyeva, a gold medallist from London 2012 and a mother of one.

“I spoke to Mariya on Instagram. She messaged me and said this would be a great journey,” Geeta Phogat told ESPN India in a recent interview.

“She told me not to worry and that I would come back stronger than ever.”

Mariya Stadnik gave birth to her first child in 2010 and her second in 2013. After she became a mother, the Ukrainian bagged two Olympic medals - both silvers - and five World Championship medals.

Russia’s Natalia Vorobyeva became a mother in 2018 and her return to the mat too was a successful one, as she won her second World Championships gold medal last year at Nur-Sultan.

“Natalia told me the same thing - that after having a baby they felt they were physically and mentally stronger,” Geeta Phogat said.

Indian wrestler Geeta Phogat with her son Arjun. Photo: Instagram/ Geeta Phogat

But Geeta Phogat knows that to prepare for an Olympics in all its seriousness is easier said than done.

“When I say I have a year to go to the Olympics, it seems like a lot of time. But when it comes to actually doing it, I realise there's so much work to be done,” said Geeta, who gave birth to a son eight months ago.

“I’ve lost 15 kilos already but I have another 15 to lose by the next couple of months. I will have to bring up my fitness levels as well. So a lot of things have to change.

“The target is to be ready for the Olympic qualifying round or the nationals or whichever is the next tournament. The next six months are very important for me.”

Moreover, with Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and junior world champion Sonam Malik dominating the 62kg weight category in India, Geeta Phogat knows that she will have to be on the top of her game if she is to have a chance of making it to Tokyo.

“When I do return, there will be a lot of expectations for me. Wherever I go, they will want me to win,” said Geeta Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to win a Commonwealth Games gold.

“There will be a lot of younger girls too. I'll have to understand and deal with new techniques,” Geeta signed off.