Indian wrestling has started to do things more professionally: Vanesa
"Not only those two girls -- Geeta and Babita -- but Indian wrestling has now started doing things more professionally and you can see more and more improvements in every department and the level has become better day by day. I have been to India last year also for the PWL and I can see a lot of promising wrestlers, both male and female in the league here. They have also started winning in big events like the world championships and the Olympics," Vanesa told IANS in an interview. She asserted that the PWL is a key catalyst for this change as it gives Indian wrestlers much needed exposure and has turned the sport into a lucrative career option.
"Youngsters get inspiration when they see such a big league like this from up close. They want to come out and take up wrestling which is a big boost for the sport. It is helpful for the current athletes too because more people will get to know them and they will get more support from their countrymen when they go for bigger competitions abroad," said the 2018 European championships silver medallist. Vanesa took a sabbatical after her World Championship gold in 2012 to raise her child and returned to win her second World Championships gold in Paris five years later.
"I participated in the 2013 European Championships where I was placed third. After that there were some health issues for which I missed another year and started training again in 2016. The next year, I became the world champion again," said the mother of a five-and-a-half-year-old boy who has already started taking gymnastics lessons from his grandparents who are gymnastics coaches. "I also started with gymnastics as both my mom and dad are gymnastic coaches. My father Valery is an international coach while mom does coaching in Belarus. It was much later that I shifted to wrestling," said Vanesa who has become a huge fan of the Indian sweet gulab jamun and doesn't mind having some even if her diet plan doesn't approve of it.
"Oh I love them! I have started liking a lot of things here and the sweet is one of them. I also watched a lot of Hindi movies when I was here last year but not many this time," she added. Vanesa, who misses her five-year-old a lot and tries to spend as much time with him as possible when not travelling or training, said: "That is all part and parcel of an athlete's life. I miss him a lot, but I also need to train and compete to improve. My immediate focus is the world championship and then, of course, winning a gold in the Tokyo (2020) Summer Games."
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)