Mumbai: Her tryst as a Judoka gives Pooja Dhanda a certain edge over her opponents. She is only 24 and on her road the Asian Games, the wrestler knows that she can take down greater opponents like she has in the past.
Dhanda and the wrestling contingent have returned from Yasar Dongu International Tournament from Istanbul, Turkey. She was breathing fire after beating Ukraine’s Tetyana Kit in the quarter-finals of 57kg category. It was a close one to call but Pooja had the final laugh. Even though the tournament ended with her losing in the final against another Ukrainian Iryna Khariv, Pooja returned with positives ahead of the Asian Games.
The grappler says she was not holding back to save an injury. “I was not fighting at my 50% or 60%. Whenever we step on the mat, we only go to win but there are times when you cannot maintain your composure. Such ups and downs come your in wrestling and that is what happened and I could not keep my composure,” says Pooja speaking to this paper.
“The exposure in Istanbul was really good. We trained with girls from Turkey and Azerbaijan I beat the world silver medallist Kit (from European C’ship 2016) from Ukraine. I learned a lot,” she adds.
It has not been long enough for Pooja on the mat considering majority of her career was sidelined by an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury. After returning, she beat Geeta Phogat to earn a place in the squad for CWG not to disappoint. Pooja came back with a silver medal in her first ever CWG. Can she do it at her first ever Asiad?
“Whenever you win in a big competition you get confidence and your performance gets better. Mentally you are stronger and you get a lot of motivation from others,” she says.
“The competition is big and comes once in four years. Top countries from the first are a part of it. Japan, Kazakh (Kazakhstan), and Mongolia are the top competitions. Last time in the Asian Games we had two medals and both were bronze in 48kg and 63kg. This time we will hope that six of us are going so we get six medals each. All of us have worked hard. We are motivating ourselves are mentally that we have to perform at a great competition,” further adds Pooja.
Pre-match video analytics
For a wrestler like Pooja, who has not faced enough fighters yet, her experience is low. She states that watching videos helps her fill this void. “Whoever we are playing, we always watch their games and analyse their weak points or plus points. Like when I had beaten Kit, I knew what her plus point was and I didn’t let her do that. That’s the good thing about watching videos. You are blank when you face them but you can analyse their style with videos,” she says.