Written by Vinay Siwach | Updated: January 13, 2017 10:45 pm
As both wrestlers walked back to their corners after the end of the first period, Delhi’s coach Kuldeep Malik gave Sakshi Malik a set of instructions. For the first time in her three bouts in the Pro Wrestling League, she was trailing. Kuldeep showed her a couple of moves and asked her to attack more in the second period. Sakshi, clearly exhausted, took some time to catch her breath.
And when the second period began, Sakshi tried go behind Sarita Mor and attempted a takedown. Unsuccessful though. Sarita saw this as an opportunity to score another point and take a lead but failed. With four minutes gone in the bout, Sarita led Sakshi 1-1 on the basis of last-point-scored condition. Both wrestlers tried hard to get the lead but none succeed. It was only at the end of the fifth minute that the referee awarded a passivity point against Sarita.
Sakshi still had to survive a minute before she could have been declared a winner. Sarita managed to push Saskshi closer to the danger zone on the mat and tried a takedown but a push out from Sakshi gave her another point. That scored remained 3-1 after six minutes but Sakshi had to struggle to score a win.
It was not a new thing for Sarita. She has wrestled before but in a different environment with little crowd and now TV coverage. But on Friday, she had the first hand instructions from Olympic champ Erica Wiebe.
“Wiebe just asked me to go all out. It was yet another close loss for me and I was so desperate to win this time. I had wrestled Sakshi thrice before and I have lost each one of them but only after giving her a tough fight. The last bout I lost was with a score of 3-2,” Sarita said.
Sakshi’s win could not save her team Delhi from losing the tie against Mumbai and crash out of the league. On an individual level, it was the first time Sakshi looked beatable in the league. Apart from being called passive twice, she never got a chance to score points against Sarita. The only time she did was a reversal push out.
Sarita, a junior Asian championships silver-medallist and six time national champion at different levels, believes that it was a difficult bout and she had her chances in it and could have beaten Sakshi.
“I knew her style and people were cheering for me. I was also thinking that I have to beat her. But she is experienced and I am still in my second year of senior wrestling. I am not far from beating her. When two good players wrestle, it is just that the experience that helps you win,” she says.
With more than 3, 000 people cheering for Sarita’s name, it was something that she had never experienced before at the selection trails in Lucknow.
“I felt some pressure. I knew it is being telecast and people were also shouting my name. This is a different feeling for me. During trails we never have a big crowd, only the wrestlers come. This was surreal,” she says.
But more than the new experience, the Haryana wrestler was excited about playing the Rio bronze medallist Sakshi. She aims to be the best at 58kg before the next Olympics come closer in 2020.
“There was Geeta Phogat in 58 then Sakshi came. I know I can be there. Someone else will take my place as well. But I know that the next four years are very important,” she says.
Sarita, who trains at the Nidani centre in Jind, showed that she belongs to the big stage but has a long way to go from being the best. “I know it is big task to replace but this league has helped me hone my skills. Training with Olympic champion Erica Wiebe and other wrestlers teaches you a lot. I’ll take home a lot from this experience,” she says.