Overshadowed by the famous Phogat sisters till the Rio Olympics began, wrestler Sakshi Malik is now the newest sports icon for Haryana, having bagged India’s first medal at the Games earlier this month.
She returned to a warm welcome right from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport up to her native Mokhra village in Rohtak. Tired, jet-lagged and sleepy, she sits in the drawing room of her house as she does not want to disappoint thousands of children coming in to meet her to click selfies and take autographs. Taking some time out, she spoke to HT. Excerpts:
Q. You have been pronounced the brand ambassador of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme. How do you intend to work for the cause?
A. First of all, I’m thankful to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for such a big honour. I intend to add ‘Beti Khilao’ to the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign.
Q. What facilities do you expect from the government for budding sportspersons?
A. I think government provides a lot of facilities. We have sports nurseries and academies where children are trained for free. And when we show our output by winning tournaments, the government extends more help to take us to next level and provides better training.
Q. Whose performance in the Indian contingent at Rio did you like the most?
A. Without a doubt Dipa Karmakar’s. She was breathtakingly fabulous. I was heartbroken when she didn’t win a medal, but she earned respect from across the world. As a person, too, she’s pleasant and loveable to talk to.
Q. What do you miss the most when you’re practicing? What next?
A. Aloo paranthas loaded with desi ghee…I will gorge on them till I join practice in two days. Next is Tokyo 2020. I want to train hard to ensure a gold next time.
Q. The government offered you an unconditional Class-2 job, and announced projects in your village as per your choice. What would you want from them?
A. I have got no time to think about anything yet. As you can see I’ve been surrounded by people all the time. So, let’s wait till I decide.