Rio Olympic Bronze medallist and wrestler Sakshi Malik is marrying a fellow grappler this year, Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika has reported .
In an interview with the newspaper, the 23-year-old wrestler – who won India’s first medal at the recently concluded Rio Olympics this year – said the name of her future husband was a “secret” but that it wouldn’t interfere with her preparations for the next Olympics in Tokyo.
“He is very supportive. He thinks my dreams are his dreams. I will gain a friend after marriage,” she told the Bengali daily.
“He will help me in my preparations. I believe wrestling after marriage will not be a problem.” HT couldn’t independently verify the report.
The Haryana resident returned home to a hero’s welcome last week after being one of India’s two medal winners at Rio, the other being badminton silver medallist PV Sindhu.
Malik became a national hero overnight after she ended India’s medal drought at Rio by clinching bronze in the woman 58kg-category wrestling event.
Sakshi was being hailed for her willpower after coming through the repechage rounds before rallying brilliantly from 0-5 down in the bronze medal bout, upstaging Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan 8-5.
She jumped on the mat, smiling ear-to-ear, before being hoisted by her coach Kuldeep Singh with the Indian tri-colour draped around her.
The victory saw her become India’s first female wrestling medalist and only the fourth Indian grappler to win a medal in the Olympics after Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.
But Malik has also grabbed headlines for her fighting spirit off the mat. The 23-year-old is from Rohtak, which is only 80km from the national capital but steeped in ways that made it difficult for her to pursue a sport regarded as an exclusive preserve of men.
In the beginning, her family didn’t want her to wrestle and, at one point, the people in her village even teased her, saying wrestling would give her “cauliflower ears” and no one would marry her.