Sakshi Malik scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only fourth female athlete from the country to climb to the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world. Overall, Sakshi has won India’s fifth wrestling medal in the Olympic Games. It is India’s 25th medal in Olympic Games.
Who is Sakshi Malik?
Born on September 3, 1992, in Rohtak, Haryana, Sakshi Malik has her supportive parents, Sudesh and Sukhbir, to thank for encouraging her in her unusual career choice.
The 23-year-old from Mokhra village began her training in wrestling as a 12-year-old under the guidance of Ishwar Dahiya at an akhara in the Chotu Ram stadium. Her grooming was helped along by having to fight a lot of boys, in a region where the sport was ‘not for girls’. In fact, Dahiya faced protests from locals when he took Sakshi under his wing.
The run-up to Rio
2010: By the age of 18, she had tasted victory at junior-level competitions. She won a Bronze at the 2010 Junior World Championships in the 59-kg category.
2014: She first came to the international limelight after taking home the Gold at the Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament (60-kg).
July-August 2014: Her professional international career began with a silver medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, courtesy two 4-0 bouts.
September 2014: She crashed out in the Quarterfinal at the World Wrestling Championships in Tashkent. But not before beating her Senegalese opponent 4-1 in the Round of 16.
May 2015: Then on to the Senior Asian Wrestling Championships in Doha, where she won the Bronze.
On that victory, she said:
“My silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games is my personal favourite. Although I displayed some aggressive wrestling at the 2015 Asian Championships and clinched a bronze, my bout at Glasgow was more challenging.”
Following that, Sakshi booked her seat on the flight to Rio by winning Bronze in the Summer Olympics Qualifiers, defeating Chinese Lan Zhang in the semifinal, at Istanbul.
July 2016: She won 60-kg Bronze at the Spanish Grand Prix.
She got that chance when Koblova went to the final. Sakshi grabbed it and went for it, with passion and hunger. She ended India’s agony after winning two consecutive bouts. She came out first in India’s blue and outclassed Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia 12-3. An hour later, as most of India stayed awake in front of the TV sets, praying desperately way past midnight, Sakshi struck.
She came out in an orange outfit this time, against Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova. She was tense and nervous with a hollow feeling in the stomach. She failed to get the rival’s measure and was trailing her 0-5 with just a minute and a half to go.
That sinking feeling had set it again. The Indians in the hall had fallen quiet. But Sakshi was not done yet. She struggled to get a grip even as her coach Kuldeep Malik screamed from the sidelines – ‘haath chhuda ke patka maar (get free from her grip on your hand and topple her). She broke free once and pitted her rival on the mat (2-5), then again (4-5) and again (8-5) and celebrated, arms up in the air, as the stop watch struck ‘six minutes’.
— TOI Sports News (@TOISportsNews) August 18, 2016