Sakshi Malik became the fourth Indian to win a medal at the Summer Games and ended the agonising wait for a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The 23-year-old Rohtak girl made the country proud when she fought back from 0-5 down to beat Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan 8-5 in the bronze medal match. Sakshi won the medal match in the wrestling 58kg category in the most astonishing fashion after she qualified for the Repechage rounds of the women’s freestyle 58kg event. She made most out of her second chance to outplay the Mongolian wrestler Orkhon in the Rd 2 contest 12-3 to advance to the bronze-medal match.
“Meri 12 saal ki tapasya rang layi (It’s the result of my 12 years’ fight for day and night). Geeta didi, my senior had qualified for the first time in London,” Sakshi said, with tears of joy in her eyes.
“I never thought I would become the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal in wrestling. I hope the remaining wrestlers will also do well,” Sakshi said.
Malik’s inspiring performance becomes all the more significant when we trace her journey from Rohtak to Rio. Hailing from a small village named Mokhra in the Rohtak District of Haryana, she began her training at the age of 12. Sakshi had to fight boys early in her career and face social issues with women not allowed to participate in wrestling in Haryana. She took up wrestling in 2002 under coach Ishwar Dahiya and since then has won several tournaments including gold medals in national tournaments.
The Haryana Government acknowledged Sakshi’s momentous win at Rio 2016 Olympics and announced a cash reward of Rs 2.5 crore and a government job for the Bronze medallist wrestler.
The Haryana government had earlier promised a bumper bonus for medallists. The government announced Rs 6 crore for gold medallists, Rs 4 crore for silver and Rs 2 crore for bronze. In addition to this, land in the state.