PM’s pep talk to Vinesh: ‘Don’t get bogged down by defeat’

Modi’s words come at a time when Vinesh has been issued a show-cause notice by the WFI, which is headed by BJP Member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

At the breakfast meeting with Tokyo 2020 Olympians at his residence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is learnt, had a special chat with grappler Vinesh Phogat, currently suspended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for alleged indiscipline.

Mindful of reports about her ‘not meeting anyone’ after her loss at the Tokyo Games, sources said, the Prime Minister told Vinesh that he was not only ‘fond’ of her skills but also ‘respected’ her family’s contribution to wrestling. He also told her that ‘self-anger and dejection’ were emotions that needed to be avoided.

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“Jeet ko sar par chadhne na do, haar ko man mein basne na do (Do not get arrogant in victory and do not get bogged down by defeat),” he is believed to have told Vinesh.

Modi’s words come at a time when Vinesh has been issued a show-cause notice by the WFI, which is headed by BJP Member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. She has been accused of staying and training away from the Indian team and not wearing the official team jersey for her bouts. Vinesh has refuted two out of the three charges while admitting that not wearing the jersey was an ‘unintended’ error.

READ | WFI got its numbers wrong for coaches, physios

Last week, after the WFI suspended her, she wrote in a column in The Indian Express that she was ‘broken’ following her defeat in the quarterfinals of the 53kg weight class at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I slept once since I reached home. I slept for two hours on the flight and sometimes in the Village. There, I would walk alone and drink coffee. I was alone. When the sun would rise, I felt sleepy,” she wrote. “I don’t know when I will return (to the mat). Maybe I won’t. I feel I was better off with that broken leg (suffered at the 2016 Rio Olympics). I had something to correct. Now my body is not broken, but I’m truly broken.”

READ | Vinesh Phogat refutes two WFI charges; admits not wearing jersey was unintended error

The Prime Minister treated gold medallist Neeraj Chopra to churma and kept the promise made to two-time badminton medallist PV Sindhu that he would have ice- cream with her if she won a medal in Tokyo. Sindhu, a Rio Games silver medallist, returned from the Japanese capital with a bronze, becoming only the second Indian to manage a podium finish in an individual event at two Olympics.

When he met wrestler Ravi Dahiya, who won a silver in the 57kg weight category, Modi is believed to have told him, “You belong to Haryana. The people from Haryana are very happy by nature. Then, why were you sad, even on the podium (despite winning a medal)? You have done so well. You have to smile.”

He was referring to Dahiya’s disappointment after winning ‘only’ a silver medal in Tokyo. The wrestler wore a dejected look on the podium after losing to Russia’s Zavur Uguev in the gold medal bout.

The Prime Minister, it is learnt, requested each player to visit 75 schools by August 15, 2023, as part of the Amrit Mahotsav. He urged them to talk about malnutrition and play a sport with the children of the schools they visit.

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