The wrestler came out on social media after facing harsh criticism for her performance.

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat recently won a bronze medal at the World Wrestling Championships at Belgrade last week and lashed out at her critics by penning a lengthy note on social media on Monday. The 28-year-old wrestler slammed critics calling out ‘so-called fans and experts and asked them if they know what efforts go up behind preparing for an event.

Phogat bagged a bronze medal in the 53kg category by beating Emma Jonna Malmgren of Sweden at World Wrestling Championships 2022. Vinesh had earlier won a bronze in the 2019 edition in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. By winning bronze at Belgrade, she became the only Indian woman to win two medals at this event.

She was bullied heavily and criticized after how she lost her qualification round to Mongolia’s Khulan Batkhuyag (0-7). Fans and experts all trolled her all over social media. Though Vinesh didn’t say anything that time and made a strong comeback to win two repechage rounds and then the bronze medal match without conceding a single point. The 28-year-old now has come up with a strong reply to her critics and so-called fans.

“Athletes are humans”

In a lengthy statement that Vinesh Phogat put out on Twitter, she writes, “Athletes are humans and while being an athlete is a huge part of who we are, it doesn’t mean we work like robots every time a tournament is announced. Not sure if this culture is in every country or this is just India where we have so many experts sitting at home.”

“Every individual, professional or not, has chased hardships, struggles and challenges through their journey. The difference is the world does not comment and criticise them thinking they are experts on those professionals and their careers. But we have many who consider themselves as experts on sports who think they know the efforts, the hardships and what goes into training an athlete.”

She further added that “Why are we as athletes answerable to them about every detail when all athletes get back is comments on how they should train, what they should do instead of support and encouragement when times are tough? Is it very discouraging when people assume they can comment on when athletes should stop or end their careers and when they should play and not play? A win always does not mean that an athlete has done anything extra extraordinary and a loss does not mean that the athlete has not tried during that game. Winning and losing is a part of every athlete’s journey and the athletes try hard each time.”

‘So-called fans experts’

Vinesh Phogat questioned the ‘so-called fans experts if they know the hard work and resources that go behind the process. “When we are criticised for not getting a medal every single time do these so-called fans experts know what efforts, resources and preparation go into this process? And do they know what goes into the preparation of the athletes they compare us with? Do the supporters from the other countries also criticise their athletes in the same way and manner?”

“It is very easy to comment on these things because for them it’s just one day of their life after watching a match, what they don’t realise is these things can seriously drag along and affect the athlete’s state, their mood, especially in difficult times. Things are great with social media now connecting all fans and supporters but times were simpler when social media was not involved to spread these comments and negative criticism,” she added.

Three times Commonwealth Games champion Vinesh Phogat lost the opening bout but scripted an incredible comeback to beat Malmgren 8-0 in the bronze medal match. She also added words of encouragement for her fellow athletes who have to face criticism constantly. She concludes by stating, “It’s true that not everyone will understand your vision and dream, people will question your methods until they see it on the scoreboard. But as athletes, if we give up too early or lose courage too soon, we may never reach that turning point. Here’s to all my fellow athletes who dare to repeatedly put themselves through a difficult journey and show compassion towards their dream without fearing people. My dear athletes, we are all on the same page and have similar journeys. Hopefully, someday we will try to change this culture with our consistent efforts, courage and dedication.”

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