New Delhi: With the Commonwealth Games gold in her kitty, India's top female wrestler Babita Kumari has now shifted focus to the Asian Games and is working on a totally different approach to tackle Japanese and Chinese opponents she is likely to encounter.
The 24-year-old is training hard on her speed and tactics for the Asiad to be held in the South Korean city of Incheon from September 19 to October 4.
"Wrestling at the Asian Games is extremely tough, it's almost of World or Olympic level. The Japanese and Chinese are some of the best in the business as they are brilliant when it comes to speed. Tackling them will be hard," Babita, who defeated Canadian Brittanee Laverdure to clinch the 55 kg freestyle gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, said.
Since the introduction of women's wrestling at the 2002 Busan Asian Games, Japan have bagged the most number of golds with six while China are second with three.
"We are closely studying the videos of their bouts and with the help of the coaches, we are chalking out our technique. As a first step, the coaches are working on improving our speed," said Babita, who will be participating in her first Asian Games.
Babita is aspiring to become only the third Indian woman grappler to claim a medal at the continental Games after Alka Tomar's bronze in 55 kg freestyle and Geetika Jakhar's 63 kg freestyle silver at the 2006 Doha Games.
"The competition is tough as there will be many experienced wrestlers with medals under their belt. Also, there are only four weight categories unlike seven at the Commonwealth Games. So competition will be tougher as many top wrestlers will now try to get into the available weight categories," said Babita, who hails from Balali, Haryana.
India is sending a four-member team to Incheon -- cousin sisters Vinesh Phogat (48 kg) and Babita Kumari (55 kg), Geetika Jakhar (63 kg) and Jyoti (75 kg).
"Both Geetika and Jyoti are our seniors. Geetika has won a medal previously while Jyoti is highly experienced. We all have been training hard and hope to do well and give our 100 percent," said Babita, who had also clinched the 2010 Commonwealth Games silver here.
"I hope that I am able to replicate the Commonwealth Games gold at Incheon. The performance that won me the gold in Glasgow gives me the impetus to do even better at Incheon," added Babita.
However, because of the tight calendar, Babita will be skipping the annual World Championships, scheduled to be held in Tashkent Sep 8-14.
"There wasn't much gap between the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games. There wasn't much time to practice for the Worlds, hence we had to skip it," said Babita, who also has a 2012 World Championship bronze.
"Also, the World Championship is an annual affair whereas the Asian Games only comes once in four years. So I was always focussed on the Incheon Games," said Babita.