Olympic medal transforms athlete's life and society: Sakshi Malik

Sakshi became the first woman wrestler to secure an Olympic medal, winning a bronze at the Rio Games in 2016.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 10:43 IST

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Mumbai: Rio Games bronze medallist wrestler Sakshi Malik feels winning an Olympic medal not only transforms an athlete's life but also impacts society, creating numerous opportunities for children.

Sakshi became the first woman wrestler to secure an Olympic medal, winning a bronze at the Rio Games in 2016.

"An Olympic dream is not just an athlete's dream; it's the dream of an entire family. Winning an Olympic medal transforms not only the life of the athlete but also the lives of their family, society, and village," Sakshi said at a media event in Mumbai organised by JSW Sports on Friday.

The 31-year-old claimed that her home city of Rohtak has undergone several changes in terms of sporting infrastructure since her medal-winning run eight years ago.

"After my medal, significant changes occurred. The Chhotu Ram Stadium in Rohtak, where I trained, went from having a tin roof to becoming an AC hall. A stadium was even built in my village and named after me."

"An Olympic medal creates numerous opportunities, especially for children, allowing them to train in better facilities. The craze for wrestling in Haryana has surged. Everywhere you go, there's a stadium every ten minutes, and you'll find girls training in each one. The old mindset that girls couldn't wrestle has changed dramatically."

With women wrestlers doing well on the world stage more and more girls are taking up the sport with an aim to attain Olympic glory.

"The misconceptions that girls are impure and shouldn't participate in wrestling have been debunked. Now, girls are proving that they too can excel in wrestling."

Out of the six Indian wrestlers who have qualified for this month's Paris Olympics, five are female grapplers -- Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Antim Panghal (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Nisha Dahiya (68kg) and Reetika Hooda (76kg).

“There was a time when people believed that girls couldn't wrestle, but today, this has changed. For the first time, five girls are going to the Olympics for wrestling while only one boy is going. Girls, who were once suppressed, are now boldly stepping forward and excelling in wrestling."

“After my medal win, no one enters wrestling merely thinking about securing a job or a benefit. They now start with the goal of winning an Olympic medal. This shift in mindset is incredibly inspiring."

Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who missed out on a medal by a whisker at the Rio Games, reiterated Sakshi's views.

"After the 2016 Rio Olympics, a lot of things have changed in Tripura. People had a mindset that they can't go into gymnastics. And in Tripura, there were a lot of changes.

"For example, the infrastructure, the vault that you see, you need a lot of foam pits, which are very important. They weren't there before."

Karmakar's hometown, like Sakshi's witnessed a surge in gymnastics and several training centres came up.

"After the 2016 Olympics, they built the foam pit there, and a lot of equipment came. And the children's interest level increased a lot. Earlier, there were very few centres, but now everywhere, whether it's government or private, the centres have increased a lot."

"And everyone's mindset is that we also want to go to the Olympics, which wasn't there before. So according to me, after the 2016 Rio Olympics, a lot of people's mindsets changed, which was very important," she added.

Published 06 July 2024, 10:43 IST

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