New Delhi: The 17-year-old Ritika Phogat, cousin of ‘Dangal’ fame Geeta and Babita Phogat, took her own life after she lost a wrestling tournament final in Bharatpur on Wednesday.
The maternal cousin of Babita Phogat, Ritika was following the trend of the family as as number of other members of the Phogat family also earn their livelihood by competing inside the wrestling ring. Ritika was a state-level wrestler and was competing in the sub-junior, junior women, and men wrestling competition at Lohagarh Stadium in Bharatpur. Ritika lost the final, which was played on March 14.
The competition started on March 12, with the final scheduled on March 14. Ritika fought her way to the final of the tournament and reportedly lost the decider by 1 point after which she hung herself to death for not being able to bear the disappointment of the loss. Mahavir Phogat, the father of the Phogat sisters, is also said to have been present at the tournament.
Ritika had trained under Dronacharya Awardee Mahavir Singh Phogat, who was also reportedly present at the tournament. A resident of Jaitpur village in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu, Ritika had been learning and practicing wrestling for over five years at the Mahavir Phogat Sports Academy in Haryana.
Meanwhile, Haryana’s Charkhi Dadri District Superintendent of Police Ram Singh Bishnoi released a statement saying investigation into Ritika’s death has been launched.
“Ritika, wrestler and cousin of Babita Phogat, died allegedly by suicide on March 17. The reason behind it might have been her defeat at a recent wrestling tournament in Rajasthan. Investigation underway,” Ram Singh Bishnoi said.
Vijay Kumar Singh, Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, was one of the first to confirm the news of Ritika’s suicide on social media.
“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,” Singh tweet read.
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.
— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) March 18, 2021
The Phogat sisters and their father Mahavir shot, who shot to fame after Aamir Khan’s 2016 blockbuster hit ‘Dangal’, which was inspired by their lives and success. Mahavir Phogat was an amateur wrestler himself while his eldest daughter, Geeta, is a freestyle wrestler who won India’s first ever gold medal in wrestling at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Geeta is also the first-ever Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Olympics (2012 London Games).
The other daughter of Mahavir, Babita won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games 2010, bronze at the World Wrestling Championships 2012, followed by a gold medal in Commonwealth Games 2014.