Sonam Malik rises on dad’s pep talk, fighting spirit - Hindustan Times
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Sonam Malik rises on dad’s pep talk, fighting spirit

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By
Jan 06, 2020 09:53 AM IST

The teenager went neck-and-neck with Sakshi and kept attacking despite trailing in the first period of the 62kg semi-final bout. In the second period, Sonam produced a sensational four-point throw with three seconds left on the clock.

“Tanney apna sab kuch daavn par laga dey aaj, kyunki ab kuch nahi baccha hai aur ho sakta hai ki zindagi badal jaye” (You must gamble everything today because there is nothing to lose; it is possible this proves a life changer). This was what Rajender Malik told his daughter Sonam Malik during the 30-second break during Saturday’s trials of the Indian women’s wrestling team. The words did the magic for two-time world cadet champion, who stunned 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik at the Sports Authority of India centre here to book a place in the India team for the upcoming Asian Championships.

File photo of Sonam Malik.(UWI/Twitter)
File photo of Sonam Malik.(UWI/Twitter)

“Those words from my father meant everything to me. I didn’t care for anything and went on attacking Sakshi without a break as I had confidence in my father’s words,” Sonam, 18, said on Sunday after a gym session at Gohana, in Haryana’s Sonepat.

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The teenager went neck-and-neck with Sakshi and kept attacking despite trailing in the first period of the 62kg semi-final bout. In the second period, Sonam produced a sensational four-point throw with three seconds left on the clock. It tied the match at 10-10, Sonam winning by virtue of being the last to score points.

“I was a bit confused what to do while trailing 4-6 in the second period, but the words of my father and childhood coach Ajmer Malik standing next to him were encouraging; (after that) I didn’t care for anything after that against my superior rival,” said Sonam. “Even I didn’t believe I could do it; after the match everyone was looking at me in surprise.

“My confidence grew manifold … there was no pressure in beating Radhika 4-1 in the final.

“It’s just the beginning of a big journey for me in the seniors; I am confident I will do well in the first ranking series in Rome (January 15-18) and in the Asian Championships in New Delhi ( Feb 18-23),” she said.

Sonam’s father Rajender works as a store helper in a sugar mill in Gohana. He termed her win remarkable. Everyone had lost hope of Sonam continuing to wrestle in 2017 after pain in her right shoulder led to serious impact in the arm. The injury happened soon after she won gold at the World Cadet Wrestling Championships in Athens.

“We had lost all hope as she was out of action for almost six months, but Sonam never lost hope and kept working hard on fitness,” said her father, who was also a wrestler. “It wasn’t like I wanted my kids to do wrestling, but I believe it was her destiny as she and her brother used to play tennis also.

“It was God who brought Sonam back to the mat. We used all desi methods to cure her and finally she was back. Me and coach Ajmer used to wrestle together at school and when Sonam chose wrestling, I found my old friend the best coach for her.”

Sonam, who also won bronze at the 2018 world cadet meet, is no stranger in the domestic circuit. Twice she was crowned ‘Bharat Kesari’, defeating many experienced opponents.

“She had gone to Delhi for the first time to watch a dangal and all of a sudden told me she wanted to fight against senior pros. Even my repeated suggestions didn’t make a difference and to everyone’s surprise she won the title and her first big purse of R1.11 lakh,” said Rajender.

“My ultimate dream is to see my daughter win an Olympic medal.”

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