In the early hours of 18th August 2016, when most Indians were sleeping in the comfort of their homes, a gritty Indian girl Sakshi Malik was playing a wrestling match of her life. The girl from Haryana ended India’s painful wait for a medal by winning a bronze medal in the 58 kg category in the Women’s Freestyle Wrestling in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Sakshi Malik creates history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler and only the fourth Indian athlete to win any medal at the biggest sporting event in the world Olympics. Sakshi’s bronze medal became more significant as her wrestling peer Vinesh Phogat was hurt in her semi-final bout after a very promising start.
Who is Sakshi Malik
Sakshi was born on 3rd September 1992 in a Mokhra village in Rohtak district in Haryana in a Jatt family; her father, Sh. Sukhbir works in Delhi Transport Corporation, and her mother, Smt. Sudesh Malik is a government employee. Sakshi was motivated to take up wrestling after seeing her grandfather wrestle. She starts training in wrestling under Sh Ishwar Dahiya in the Chotu Ram stadium Rohtak at the age of 12 in a sport that is not for girls in the country.
In the early years, she and her coach had to face lots of opposition from the locals for playing a sport considered a man’s sport, but her parents were very supportive and encouraged her to play the sport of her choice. During her training years, she fights with the boys in the akhara, which helps in grooming well and training hard for future games.
Milestones in Sakshi Malik’s Career
In 2010 when she was 18 years old, Sakshi won a bronze medal at Junior World Championship in the 59 kg weight category. She came into the international limelight when she won Gold in Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament in the 60 kg category.
In July 2014, she became a professional wrestler and won the silver medal in Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and according to Sakshi, silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games is her personal favorite. After this win, Sakshi confirmed her place in Rio Olympics by winning the bronze medal in the Summer Olympics qualifiers held in Istanbul.
2016 Rio Olympics
Sakshi won her round of 32 bouts by beating Johanna Mattsson of Sweden and Mariana Cherdivara of Moldova in the round of 16 but lost to finalist Valeria Koblova of Russia. She qualifies for the repechage round and defeats Purevdorjiin Orkhon of Mongolia in the first round.
She won the bronze medal despite trailing 0-5 at one stage by defeating current Asian Champion Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan by 7 -5 in a repechage medal playoff match. This Sakshi victory brings cheers to the whole of India as we have agonizing 11 days without a medal in the Olympics.
Sakshi Malik has completed a master’s degree in physical education from Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak, and in September 2016, she was appointed as the university’s wrestling director. She is currently employed in the commercial department of Indian Railways in Delhi Division, Northern Railway zone.
She is also a part of the JSW Sports Excellence Program and has been featured in their women’s day campaign called #Everywomanstrong. On 2nd April 2017, Sakshi tied the knot with the fellow Indian wrestler Satyawart Kadian in Rohtak. Two-time Olympic medalist wrestler Sushil Kumar and other fellow Olympic medal winners like PV Sindhu were guests at their wedding.
Sakshi Malik : Awards and Recognition after the Bronze Medal at 2016 Rio Olympics
- In 2017 she got the fourth highest Indian national honor, Padma Shri
- In 2016 Sakshi got Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, which is the highest sporting honor of India
- Sakshi got promoted to gazetted officer rank by her employer, the Indian Railways
- Land grant from Haryana Government and Rs 2.50 Crore
- Indian Railways & promotion from senior clerk to gazetted officer rank and Rs 60 Lakhs.
- 20 Lakhs from the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs.
- Rs 20 Lakhs from Indian Olympic Association
- 15 Lakhs from JSW Group.
- Rani Laxmi Bai Award and Rs 3.11 Lakhs from Uttar Pradesh Government.
- Rs 1.01 Lakhs from Salman Khan
- 500 sq yards land grant from the Government of Haryana
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