It’s a sport which is synonymous with power for most but Rio Olympics bronze-medallist wrestler Sakshi Malik says her achievements on the mat are not just because of her brawn but also her brain.
The 24-year-old from Haryana became the toast of the nation after winning a historic bronze.
“Coach says my forte is power but I think I won because of my technique. I did not win because of my power but because of my technique,” Sakshi told PTI after being felicitated by Air India, which announced a free business class travel for her.
“Indians (usually) win because of their power, other countries are more aggressive in the first three minutes but Indian perform well throughout the six mins,” she added. Recalling her experience at the Rio Games, Sakshi said it was a tense affair.
“The Rio experience was very tense. I had to lose weight daily. We were there for 15 days, didn’t know what will happen since entire India will be watching. I was 100 per cent sure that the Russian wrestler will reach the finals and I knew that whatever happens I will get a medal,” she said. “After winning got a chance to see the village, went to the mall, which was nice,” she added.
Sakshi also said that the significance of the moment did not register until she reached back home. “It took a lot of time for me to realize what had happened. When I came back to the airport in Delhi it was then that I realised that I have done good work.” The Rohtak girl spoke about her preparation for each competition, restrictions she keeps on herself.
“We practice in several areas like power training, weight training, speed training and mat work. But practice for all tournaments is the same but the focus differs from opponent to opponent. There are no restriction from my family’s side, but yes I have to keep control on diet, as you have to shed 4-5-kilos before every competition,” she added. Sakshi said everything else is secondary — whether it’s marriage or being appointed as Wrestling Director of Rohtak University.
“I have left marriage for the family members to think about. Right now my aim is the Asian Games and the Common Wealth Games. Till I wrestle I won’t be doing anything. (on being appointed Wrestling Director of Rohtak University).” “When you see good players like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, that is motivation enough. How they train, what lifestyle they maintain. They have performed so well at such high level for India that motivates me.
“I will start working when I get away from wrestling. I’m also in Railway they don’t ask me to do anything just focus on the game and my paycheck arrives every month,” she added. For Sakshi, women power has not started with this Olympics but has been in the rise for the past couple of years. “When I had started there were only 4-5 girls but after the performance of the girls winning a lot of medals Delhi CWG, Asian Games a lot of girls are being motivated to join wrestling, sometimes there is no place to practice.”
Talking about the Air India gesture, she said,”I want to thank every one, I feel very special that everyone wants to meet me and give so much love. I would like to thank Air India for giving me free travel as I love flying.”