I never lost hope: Sakshi

I never lost hope: Sakshi

I never lost hope: Sakshi

Sakshi Malik, a village girl from Haryana’s Rohtak district, was suddenly the cynosure of Indian eyes in Rio. Thanks to her courageous performance in the wrestling mat on Wednesday, the country now has a small presence on the Olympic Games medals table.

Medals from the Asian Games, Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games have found place in her collection and on Wednesday, a coveted Olympic bronze landed in her lap after a ferocious fight.

Sakshi spoke to an excited Indian media army soon after her success. Excerpts:
On her mindset when she was down 0-5: I never lost hope even then. I knew I could win and I was ready to fight till the final moment. I had that kind of belief in myself. That is what I did out there.

I fought till the last and realised my dream. Before the repechage bouts, I had 2-3 hours break, it was hard to pass that time but my coach kept encouraging me, telling me you can do it, you can do it, the medal is yours. I was a bit upset after the quarterfinals. You can’t predict anything in wrestling but I made a couple of mistakes and without those mistakes, I could have won that bout.

On whether she would dedicate the medal to anyone: I can’t name any one person. This belongs to my parents, coaches and training partners. But I would like to thank all the people who have kept faith in us, prayed for our success all these days.

On what her win proves: Keep the faith in girls; we can also do certain things. This is the first time a woman wrestler has won a medal in Olympics for the country. Hopefully, this will inspire many more future champions.

On tackling pressure: There was plenty of pressure out there and I handled that, I had self-belief, that is why I fought. I was quite upset when Vinesh (Phogat) suffered an injury earlier in the day and went out. After her exit, the pressure was more on me to win a medal. Our country has produced several great wrestlers. The likes of Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt have won Olympic medals. Now I am also in that elite list and it feels great.

On her aggression on the mat: I am not an aggressive person outside the mat. But once a contest begins, I turn aggressive. Without that aggression I could not have won the bout today.

Grappler to get Khel Ratna

Sakshi Malik’s Olympic bronze medal feat in Rio Games will fetch her country’s highest sporting honour Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on August 29.

The 23-year-old from Rohtak, Haryana  has not received an Arjuna Award but as per the government policy she would become an automatic choice for Khel Ratna by the virtue of her Olympic medal.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox