Rio de Janeiro: From yearning to fly in an aeroplane as a kid to clinching a bronze in the Olympics, the biggest sporting stage of all, Haryana wrestler Sakshi Malik has come a long way in her fairytale journey to etch her name in the sporting history of the country. Born into a humble family at Mokhra village near Rohtak, Sakshi tried playing kabaddi and cricket in her childhood but wrestling became her favourite sport after she started “winning bouts”. But, little did she and her parents knew at that time that one day she would become the first woman wrestler from the country to win an Olympic medal.
“I never knew what an Olympics was, I wanted to become a sportsperson to travel in an aeroplane. If you can represent India, you can board a plane, and fly,” Sakshi said. Interestingly, her elder brother was named after cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin, who is two-years older to her, would ask Sakshi to play cricket, but she would often say ‘no’ and would stare at the sky with aeroplanes flying high.
One defining moment for India at the Rio Games was when Sakshi was lifted by coach Kuldeep Malik as the duo did a lap of honour before she sat bending on her knees with the tri-colour wrapped around her and a packed hall at the Carioca Arena 2 giving her a standing ovation. From being an underdog to winning India it’s elusive medal at Rio, Sakshi knows her life will change forever.
Rohtak-to-Rio journey took 12 years of struggle and hardship for Sakshi who was often overshadowed by the Phogat sisters. Sakshi’s first international success came when she won a bronze at the 2010 Junior Worlds in the 59kg category. Four years later, Sakshi won a gold at the Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament in 60kg and the biggest moment of her career came at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 where she won a silver medal.
Sakshi is not into movies or chilling out with friends. For her, it’s about sleep and spend some quiet time at home, maybe watching TV. “I just want to lead a peaceful life,” she said. But, this is just the beginning for Sakshi. “I am looking forward to Tokyo 2020."...