Sakshi’s wrestle to victory

Deccan Chronicle.  | namita gupta

Sports, In Other News

The powerhouse who is still on a high after her Olympic medal at Rio was in the city for a promotional event.

Sakshi Malik

From akhadas in Rohtak to acing it all by bagging India’s first medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the 24-year-old has proven her mettle as a gritty woman wrestler. We catch up with Sakshi Malik who was in Bengaluru on Friday over an exclusive tete-a-tete as she shares how she didn’t let anything come in the way of her winning the coveted medal in the 58 kg category, becoming the first Indian female wrestler to win the Olympics medal.

Confessing to how she had to make her way into a sport that was not meant for girls, Sakshi reveals it wasn’t a cakewalk, “I had to face a lot of taunts from the boys in my village (Mokhra). I’ve come up the hard way. My school was seven kilometres away and I would cycle to school everyday. I would come back and head straight to training with my coach Ishwar Dahiya at Chotu Ram Stadium. It has been a lot of struggle,” Sakshi recalls.  

Speaking in Hindi, Sakshi adds how the same people who used to poke fun at her earlier, now want to be seen with her in her hometown.

“I’ve seen so much change in people’s attitudes. The same people who used to taunt me now want to come and meet me in my house, ask me to bless their kids and click photographs with me. Life’s changed for the better and I’ve also met a lot of celebrities.”

By the age of 18, she had tasted victory at junior-level competitions and won a Bronze at the 2010 Junior World Championships and had her first tryst with international limelight after winning the Gold at the Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament.

“I’m now focused on improving my game and want to keep winning. I’m participating in the Pro-Wrestling League in December, for which preparations are on. This time, I’ve come for Stride, Rajiv Mehta and Uday Garudachar, but I was in Bengaluru in December last year as well as I’m part of the Mumbai Garuda wrestling team. From the time I came to know about Olympics as a 12 year old, I knew I had to win a medal there, which I’ve won. I still want to win many more medals, including the Asian Games. Mera bada sapna pura ho gaya hai, lekin abhi bhi kai chote sapne pure karne hain,” states the Olympian.

Ask her about any materialistic pleasures that’s brought her joy and she shares with a smile, “The biggest gift I like is my new BMW. I like to shop, but mostly for sports-related things. Whatever money I get, I want to put it back into wrestling. I think I’ve seen the world whenever I travel for matches. I take out three days and go around different countries, but I’m focused on my sport and want to excel in it. I follow wrestlers of other countries and watch their videos. I hardly get time for anything else and make new friends as wrestling requires a lot of dedication.”

Prod her on how she doesn’t let stress bother her and she adds, “Stress comes to those who do a thousand things. I have only work-training and rest, and that’s all that I know,” says the champ.