Japanese wrestlers inspired me: Sakshi Malik

Deccan Chronicle.  | Irfan Haji

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Sakshi also congratulated Sushil Kumar for being nominated for the Padma Bhushan by the Wrestling Federation of India.

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra (from left), Rio bronze medal-winning wrestler Sakshi Malik and boxer Vikas Krishan Yadav in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Photo: Shripad Naik)

Mumbai: Sakshi Malik inspired many after winning the first medal for India at Rio Olympics but she revealed on Tuesday that it was Japan’s wrestlers who had inspired her at the pre-Olympic camps in Bulgaria and Spain.

“I learnt a lot from Japanese wrestlers during our camps. They are disciplined and cool. Their coaches are also disciplined and take care of small things like diet. We don’t even know how and when to eat supplements properly. These small things need to taken care of,” she said at a felicitation function orgainsed by JSW Sports for her, boxer Vikas Krishan and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.

Kaori Icho of Japan became the first woman to capture individual gold medals at four consecutive Olympics in any sport when she beat Koblova Zholobova of Russia in the women’s 58-kg freestyle competition. Sakshi won bronze in same event. Eri Tosaka (48 kg) and Sara Dosho (69 kg) also topped the podium at Rio to help Japan sweep the women wrestling medals.

With the focus on Narsing Yadav, Yogeshwar Dutt, the Phogat sisters, Babita Kumari and Vinesh before the Summer Games, Sakshi wasn’t considered a medal prospect. But she revealed that she had the belief to do well.

“Sushil Kumar won his first medal in 2008 (at Beijing) and gave us the belief that India can do so in wrestling. Yogeshwar Dutt also won later. Babita qualified for the Olympics and Vinesh was also doing well for years. So expectations were from them.

“I had self-belief this time, I had a dream to participate in the Olympics which came true. “I wanted to give my best and fight for India.” “Sakshi matured in the last 12 months and was using her strengths to good effect during training. We knew she had an outside chance to win,” said JSW Sports CEO and former India tennis player Mustafa Ghouse.

Sakshi also congratulated Sushil Kumar for being nominated for the Padma Bhushan by the Wrestling Federation of India. “He is an inspiration for all and I am happy for him,” she said.

She admitted that there would be more pressure on her now to perform. “Pressure of course will be high now. Before the Olympics nobody knew me. But I have to overcome pressure and learn from mistakes in this Olympics to do better in future,” she said.

The 24-year-old is set to tie the knot reportedly with Satyawart Kadian, an international wrestler from Rohtak. “Let my parents handle that part. My aim is to focus on winning medals for India,” she said.