’Olympic dream a big motivator’
Ace woman wrestler Sakshi Malik has won many international medals, including a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 28-year-old is looking to hit peak form again as she chases another podium finish in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. It is a tough road ahead as she must excel in the trials at the national camp here in her bid to make it to the Indian squad for the Asian Olympic qualifiers after the chance seemed to have ended after losses in the national trials.
Months of lockdown forced by the pandemic has given a fresh lease of life to her dream of winning another Olympic medal as the wrestling federation is due to hold fresh trials. Sakshi is completing a week’s quarantine before she resumes training at the national camp here from Monday. Ahead of it, she spoke about her Tokyo hopes.
Is the Olympics postponement a chance to prepare better, get tactically stronger?
It has given me a new lease of life. I had lost twice in the trials and all hope for Tokyo, but now it’s a blessing in disguise. I am excited—I want to make this opportunity count by qualifying through the Asian Olympic qualifiers. I never expected to get another chance. Now I am more focused and will try not to repeat those mistakes I made in the trials. I hope not to let them (rivals) overpower me.
Do you have any special plan to tackle young rival Sonam Malik in the trials?
Certainly—on both the previous occasions, I lost due to my mistakes. I was winning at the start with a comfortable lead of 10-2 in the first trials. I couldn’t continue my dominance and missed easy chances. Now, I am working to cut my mistakes with focus on the rivals I expect to face in the trials. I would love to maintain my attacking style, stay dominant till the end. I won’t let rivals dictate terms. I need to improve my skills accordingly.
What’s your plan for Olympic qualifiers as you prepare to start training?
I will start with light training from Monday. I didn’t lose my touch even during the lock down. Fitness was the key area of focus. I was practising at the ‘akhara’ of my father-in-law. It is well equipped, so there was no problem. Training in the national camp is different as I would get to spar against other wrestlers.
The guidance of coaches would also make a big difference. Right now, I am focused on winning the trials to make it to the Indian team for the qualifying events.
How did you stay motivated during lock down?
I spent quality time with my family. I learnt many things, even tried my hand at cooking. Getting no proper training, that too with sparring partners, was the biggest problem I faced during lock down, but my husband (wrestler Satyawart Kadian), in-laws and my parents kept me motivated.
My father-in-law told me to stay focused on Olympics as I wasn’t the only one facing a crisis, the whole world was going through this bad phase. I’ve been wrestling since I was 14. This is the first time I have been away from the sport (for such a long time). I kept reading motivational stories and listening to music.
What was the biggest learning for you in these last seven months?
I missed real wrestling though I was doing power training and practising other techniques. The biggest learning was to understand the importance of patience. This crisis has taught me to stay calm. The Olympic dream has re-energised me.