Even on home turf Sonam Malik training hard for mission successUpdated: Jul 07, 2020 15:37 IST
Sonam Malik jogs a few kilometers every morning from her home to the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Academy in Madina village (Sonepat) where her training partner Anshu Malik and coach Ajmer Malik wait as a matter of routine.
A gruelling session lasting around three hours begins soon after as Sonam, Anshu and two male wrestlers in their weight category train on the muddy surface inside the academy.
“You try and evolve different techniques when you compete with boys. This allows me to learn new techniques and it will benefit me when I face my rivals in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers next year,” said Sonam, who has beaten Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik twice in the 62kg category trials.
Learning leg defense has been the main focus of the two-time World Cadet Championships gold-medallist Sonam and the best one to practice this technique is none other than World Championship bronze-medallist Anshu Malik, who had a 3-1 win record against former Pooja Dhanda in the trials here in February, mostly using leg defense.
“We have been practicing together here, but still missing the national camp at Lucknow,” said Sonam, who aims to win a medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. “I wish to win an Olympic medal for my father Rajender, who always wanted to do something big in the sport. “Leg defense is what I need to perfect as I have seen most of the Asian wrestlers making most of this attack in their bouts.”
For Sonam, things were on right track as she was getting good training at the Sports Authority of India centre here in Lucknow before the nationwide lockdown was announced due to the COVID-19.
“It was really quite boring at the start of the lockdown as in absence of a rival or opponent I didn’t feel that kind of fire in me while training with a few young wrestlers at home. How long can you keep yourself motivated with only physical workouts, but as soon as unlock 1.0 came into effect I started rigorous training.”
“I am now focused on my mission of qualifying for the Olympics. Uncertainty is there about the schedule of the event at Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) even when things are heading towards normalcy, and I am happy that the postponement of the qualifying event as well as Olympics has given me additional opportunity to get myself ready in a better manner,’ said Sonam, who has now been enjoying the Bollywood movies on TV at home.
“During the lockdown, I watched Ajay Devgn starrer Golmaal Returns, and many more such films. Other than the physical training, watching films had been my routine now as I had no other option but to spend time at home with family members and close friends. Yes, got to eat so many home-cooked eatables like samosas.”
Sonam, who had consecutive wins against Sakshi at two different trials in two months this year, knows that how much training is important for her mission Tokyo as the finalists in the qualifying events will get tickets for the Games. “It’s a situation where no one can do anything, expect staying calm and composed as you don’t know about the schedule of the qualifying event. Though I am at home, taking all precautions to maintain my food habit as a change in weight due to over-eating would make a big difference,” she said.
Her father Rajender Malik, who acts as co-coach of her at all the trials and event, besides her coach Ajmer, said that staying confident for a ticket to Olympics while practicing in home conditions wasn’t easy. “I was so much worried about Sonam in the lockdown, but now it’s much relief to me as she is enjoying her training.”
Rajender, who works as a store helper in a sugar mill in Gohana, said that winning a medal at Olympics has been the only dream of her daughter Sonam and his family. “It was God who brought Sonam back to the mat after she sustained injury in 2017 and kept away from sport for the six months, and I still believe that God would help her too in winning a medal at Olympics once this corona crisis is over.”
Along with Sonam, four others Indian women wrestlers like Nirmala Devi (50 kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Divya Kakran (68 kg) and Kiran (76 kg) would also be aiming for a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics at the Asian Qualifying.