Sakshi Malik kept her interactions very brief—be it to the media or the welcoming party—at the Indira Gandhi International Airport early morning on Wednesday. Perhaps it has got something to do with the fact that the Olympic bronze medallist, the champion who ended the dry run for Indians in Rio, has been expressing the highs and joys of realizing her dream ever since the medal-winning moment.
She must be tired, by all the talking as well as from the long haul flight from Brazil. But her day had just begun—a long day of parades, receptions at Bahadurgarh and at her village Mokhra Khas and a huge party back in Rohtak.
Malik, despite being jet-lagged and sleep deprived, was excited for she was meeting her family for the first time after her big show in Rio.
Before starting from Rio, Malik had tweeted: “Aa rahi hoon main, apne des apne ghar! (I am coming back, to my country, to my home).”
She also posted pictures of a sumptuous breakfast which she had in Rio. “A proper breakfast! How I have missed you!,” she tweeted.
At the VIP lounge, a weary Malik acknowledged the media, but didn’t waste much time and went straight to her mother, Sudesh, and hugged her. Tears rolled down her cheeks. However, she barely got a few minutes with the family — father Satbir and her cousins were also present at the lounge.
After stepping out, she proudly displayed the bronze medal to the cheering crowd of over 200, including women wrestlers from her wrestling academy in Rohtak.
“I want to thank each and everyone for such a warm welcome. I am so happy to see so many people cheering for me. I also want to thank all those who prayed for me, which helped me win the medal for my country,” Malik said.
Haryana sports minister Anil Vij was also present at the airport. The minister, despite being in Rio, wasn’t among the crowd at the venue when Malik won the medal. Vij, who had led a nine-member delegation from Haryana to Rio that cost the state exchequer Rs 1 crore, was perhaps trying to make amends.
“Sakshi ne Haryana ka nahi desh ka bhi naam roshan kiya. Usko cash incentive diya jayaga. Aghar usko naukari bhi karni hai Haryana uska liya bhi Haryana sarkar ready hai (Sakshi has made not just the state of Haryana proud but the entire nation. We would give her the promised cash incentive as well as job if she is keen),” he told the media at the airport.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who was earlier scheduled to honour her at her village, felicitated her at Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district.
From the airport, Malik and her family went to the Haryana state guest house at Chanaykapuri to take a short break before heading out to her home for a well-deserved rest.
But before that, there will be ceremonies, celebrations, and, from what we hear from Rohtak, a loud, whole-night DJ party. Apparently, the whole district will be staying awake to celebrate the homecoming of their champion.
Sakshi become the first woman wrestler in India to win an Olympic medal with her bronze in the 58kg freestyle.
Defying all odds and showing killer instincts, women athletes Sakshi Malik, silver medallist PV Sindhu and gymnast Dipa Karmakar became heroes and saved India’s Rio stint with their performances.