New Delhi: Rajasthan wrestler Ritika Phogat, cousin of Commonwealth Games gold medallists Geeta and Babita Phogat, allegedly killed herself after finishing second in the 53kg category of the state sub-junior competition, said an official of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
The competition was held at a local stadium in Bharatpur, Rajasthan from March 12 to 14. Ritika, 17, was one of of four competitors and she lost the gold medal round.
“She too wanted to win a medal at the international level like her cousins but went into depression after losing the gold medal bout in the state meet,” said the official.
After post-mortem, the body was handed over to her parents and last rites were performed at the family village near Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.
Ritika had been training at the academy run by her uncle and Dronacharya Awardee Mahavir Phogat, father of Geeta, Babita and mixed martial artist Ritu Phogat, near Charkhi Dadri in Haryana for the past five years.
Ritika was the daughter of Mahavir’s brother-in-law, thus making her a maternal first cousin to Geeta, Babita and Ritu.
Ritu took to Twitter and wrote, “Rest in Peace choti behen Ritika. I still can’t believe what just happened with you. Will miss you forever Broken heart… Om Shanti.”
“I have been getting messages all morning today. I am very sad and disturbed about what happened in my family. I urge people to not spread and believe in any rumours and act responsibly,” she said in another tweet. “These are tough times for me and my family and I urge you all to respect our privacy.” “Terrible news that we lost #RitikaPhogat who had a brilliant career ahead. The world has changed from where it was some decades ago. Athletes are facing pressures which were not there earlier. An essential part of their training should be to deal with these pressures,” Minister of State for Road Transport & Highway, V.K. Singh tweeted.
Geeta and Babita had won gold and silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Geeta was the first female wrestler from India to win gold while Babita went on to win gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Their cousin Vinesh Phogat is the top ranked 53kg wrestler in the world and an Asian Games gold medallist. Vinesh is also a favourite to win a medal at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Ritu won gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship before embarking on a career in mixed martial artist where she holds a 4-0 record in the ONE Championship.
Geeta and Babita’s story was the subject of the 2016 Bollywood film Dangal produced by Aamir Khan, who also starred in the movie as Mahavir.