She is Malik …..Sakshi Malik. India’s James Bond..(For me, she indeed is) Cold when playing, soft when not. Expressionless when she is busy tackling and trying to pin her opponent…Listening to music, when she is relaxing.
Malik did what others failed to do at the Rio Olympics- Win medal. Malik’s sealed country’s first medal at Rio, when so many top notch athletes fell at wayside and the mega event was nearing its completion. Malik won Bronze in the Women’s wrestling freestyle 58kg category, defeating Kazakhstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova in a pulsating Repechage round. The 23 year old Indian was 0-5 behind in the first period. She however mustered her confidence and courage to beat her opponent in the last 2 minutes to win the medal. Malik produced a champion like performance amongst great cheers from Indian supporters.
Malik lost to Russian Valeria Kobolova in the quarterfinals but as Valeria reached the finals, Malik had another chance at a medal.
Learning lessons from her mistakes, Sakshi was in full force against Mongolian Orkhon Purevdorj in Repechage round 2. She dominated the proceedings and beat the Mongolian 3-1(period score) to have a shot at the medal. She was not even in top 20 of the world ranking when she entered the Rio.
Sakshi Malik became the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and overall 5th Wrestler to fetch India a medal at the Olympics in Wrestling. She is also only the 4th female athlete from India to win medal at the biggest sporting event in the world.
Early life and her Struggles
It is interesting to know that Malik belongs to state of Haryana who has given other World Class Wrestlers to our country but is known for extreme gender inequality. She comes from a society where girls taking up Wrestling raises a lot of eye brows and “Who will marry her” kind of questions are a daily routine. But it was sheer determination and focus that led her shine and shine big.
Born in Rohtak, Sakshi always had supportive parents. Malik got into Wrestling after watching her grandfather Badhlu wrestle. She then began training at the age of 12 under Coach Ishwar Dahiya in Rohtak where she and her coach faced a lot of opposition and criticism from villagers for taking up the sport. Malik meanwhile did not lose her heart and kept practicing harder day by day. She was once leaving her life under the shadow of famous Phogat sisters. She was once the training partner of Geeta Phogat but wrestling was one thing that kept her going and slowly and steadily boosted her confidence.
Sakshi first tasted her international success in 2010 when she won a Bronze Medal at the Junior World Championships in 58kg category. At the 2014 Dave Schultz International Tournament, she won gold in the 60 kg category. She is also a proud owner of a Silver Medal at the 2014 Glasgow in 58kg weight category. She won Bronze Medal at the 2015 Doha Asian Championships in 60kg category. She qualified for Rio by defeating the Chinese Lan Zhang, in the semi-finals of the Olympic qualifiers in Istanbul.
WHAT IS A REPECHAGE
Repechage is a French word, meaning second chance. The system gives losers in the early stages (Round of 16) of a wrestling tournament to still have a chance to win a Bronze. Contestants who lose their bouts to the finalist are eligible to vie for the Bronze. There are two Bronze Medals from each group.
She may have won Bronze Medal, but considering it was our first medal in a 118 athlete contingent that was sent to make India proud, the shine of the medal is nothing less than a Diamond.