Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to clinch an Olympic medal at the Rio Games on Wednesday. Her bronze medal could act as inspiration for many young girls who want to pursue sports and wrestling across the country.
Being a role model is nothing new for Sakshi. Ever since her silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she has been the star the trainees at the Chotu Ram Stadium in Rohtak look up to. Over the years, the training centre has become the hub of women’s wrestling in the state and has produced many champions.
Around 12 years ago, Sakshi herself was inspired by another wrestling champ to take up the sport.
“I saw an article in a Hindi newspaper about a senior girl, Kavita Raj (a trainee of the Chotu Ram stadium), winning a medal in the state championship,” Sakshi had told HT before leaving for Brazil. “Along with the article, there was a picture of Kavita in the wrestling costume. At that time I was just 11 or 12 years old and the wrestling costume fascinated me so much that I decided to take up the sport,” she added
“When I told my mother that I want to join wrestling at the Chotu Ram stadium, she was a bit hesitant to start with. Later she agreed. After I joined the training centre, my mother used to accompany me to the stadium every day till the time I became old enough to commute on my own. Even now, at times, she comes to the centre to watch me train,” elaborated the champion.
Sakshi progressed through age-group tournaments, thereafter. Her big break came when she won a silver medal in the Junior World Championships in 2010. After that she won bronze in the 2013 Commonwealth Championship.
Before the bronze in Rio, Sakshi’s biggest medal in the senior section was the silver she won in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the bronze medal in the Asian Championship in 2015.