Finally the medal drought at the Rio Olympics is over. Early on Thursday morning came the good news: Sakshi Malik won a bronze in the 58-kg category of Women’s Freestyle Wrestling, the first Indian woman wrestler to bag an Olympic medal. “This is over 10 years of hard work,” she said after her superb effort.
But soon as the news broke, Malik was no more a champion sports person; she was “India’s daughter” and we were even reminded helpfully that victory came on the auspicious day of raksha bandhan. Some saluted the “woman, the athlete and the Indian” in her.
Interestingly, champion sportsmen, who know what it takes to reach the level Malik has reached, did not try to box her in a gendered corner.
#SakshiMalik, your resilience at #Rio2016 has made whole of India proud. Many Congratulations!!! tweeted Sachin Tendulkar. And Abhinav Bindra: Congratulations and felicitations to sakshi malik. What a great performance. Thank you for lifting the spirits of every Indian.
And the young lady tweeted: This medal is for every #Indian! Thank you for all your support, love and good wishes! #JaiHind #JeetoRio
Malik’s mother was candid when she said that she wanted her daughter to take up athletics and not wrestling. “It crossed my mind that girls were not meant for wrestling as it was a male-dominated sport and I ignored her plea....thankfully I let her do what she wanted to do otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to witness this moment.” Thank god, she did not fall for the India’s daughter twaddle.
Sakshi Malik is a champion. An Olympic champion. The medal is evidence of her grit, determination and character.
Let’s celebrate her success. It is her moment of glory; please don’t appropriate her success by force-pasting some ludicrous patriarchal label on her forehead.