It is not over till the final whistle. No one could prove this age-old adage better than Sakshi Malik. With just nine seconds to go, the score in the Bronze medal match in the 58 kg category at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics was tied at 5-5. Sakshi’s opponent, Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova was leading on criteria and looked all set to wrap up the medal.
Sakshi though had different ideas. An inspired charge with the clock ticking down, a strong grip on her opponent’s midsection and a takedown later, the 23-year-old from Rohtak was celebrating India’s first medal at the Rio Olympics. Sakshi’s Bronze was the first medal for India in women’s freestyle wrestling and helped salve some of the wounds that a medal-less run in this edition of the Olympic had effected.
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.
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.
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