Discipline & Hard Work Essential to Make a Career in Sport: Ritu Phogat
Ritu Phogat will be in action on 3 September against China's Meng Bo.
While most of her family stayed on with the grand old sport of wrestling, Ritu Phogat challenged herself further by moving to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Having changed tracks in 2019, she is now three bouts away from the ONE Championship Atomweight crown.
The 27-year-old ‘Indian Tigress’ is back in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix following a comprehensive victory over Lin Heqin in July.
Ahead of her bout against China’s Meng Bo, Ritu explained that she is focused on her goal, despite the troubles of the COVID-19 pandemic. She will face the second ranked Meng Bo in the quarterfinal round on September 3 at ONE: EMPOWER, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Excerpts from the interview:
Congrats on being in the draw for ONE Atomweight Grand Prix and being 3 bouts away from the dream title. Tell us about your preparations for the bout against Meng Bo
My preparation thanks to my coach and team is on track and there’s been daily improvements. It is difficult to predict how the bout will play out of course, but I trust my hard work and will give it my best shot in the bout against Meng Bo in the quarter-final.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted training for all athletes, could you tell us about how you dealt with it being in a new sport and being away from family all through?
After the COVID-19 pandemic began it has been tough for me because MMA as a sport is still relatively new to me. If it was wrestling then I know what to do. But in this case I can't discuss MMA with my sisters and father. I didn’t know what to do so I used researched various training programmes and used to work accordingly and send my videos to my coach, who continuously kept guiding me through that phase.
My father also always tells me remember 'why you have gone there’ and ‘keep your eyes on the goal’. And I never wanted to give my family the idea that I missed them while I have been away from home due to the pandemic and would say I didn’t have any time at all.
You were in freestyle wrestling for 15 years before shifting to MMA, how does having the support of Under Armour help?
Being associated with a brand like Under Armour is a motivation and they help us stay fit both mentally and physically. They’re a top brand with very good athletes associated with them and an association like this drives me to do well.
What would be your advice to younger athletes coming through the ranks in wrestling or MMA?
To all the younger athletes who want to make a career in sport, I’d like to say that discipline is possibly the most important aspect through the years. And while staying disciplined and training hard with focus is important, there are three things to remember - foresight, hard work, and determination – these are very essential qualities if you want to do well.
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