Wrestler Sonam Malik.(United World Wrestling)
Wrestler Sonam Malik.(United World Wrestling)

Teenager Sonam Malik starts knee treatment with Tokyo medal hopes burning bright

  • The 18-year-old wrestling, who has qualified in the 62kg category, will train and also get treatment under personal coach Ajmer Malik
PUBLISHED ON APR 21, 2021 08:07 AM IST

Having just qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, young wrestler Sonam Malik must start afresh as she needs concentration and hard work to overcome a knee injury. The biggest plus for Sonam though would be personal coaching on home turf and home-cooked food.

The 19-year-old Haryana girl made it to the Olympics, entering the 62 kg final at the Asian Olympics qualifier at Kazakhstan last week. She aggravated the condition in her right knee, and with qualification assured by reaching the final, she decided not to fight the final.

There are less than 90 days to go for the Tokyo Games. The teenager will need three-four weeks to heal fully. Soon after landing home from Kazakhstan on Monday morning, Sonam, who skipped the subsequent Asian Championship due to the injury, got an MRI done which showed she won’t need surgery.

“It will take 20-30 days for proper healing; we’ve desi style treatment along with routine medicines to get it done,” her personal coach Ajmer Malik said on Tuesday. “We got her knee checked in New Delhi; we are happy to know that surgery isn’t required.”

Ajmer, who has trained Sonam since her childhood at his Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose sports Complex in Sonepat’s Madina village, is confident the cadet world championships gold medallist would be ready to fight for a podium place once she recovers.

"She (Sonam) has been a fighter; she has stood tall even after being away from wrestling after almost getting paralysed. She never gave up and believed in herself,” said Ajmer. “Even during the recovery period, we will keep working on her techniques, especially upper body training. This won’t require any load but will help her stay in motion.”

The national camp at Sports Authority of India’s Lucknow centre has been postponed following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

“The postponement may sound bad, but for us it’s blessing in disguise as she will be preparing at home without any hindrance. The academy is a few yards away from her home and I am available 24x7 so training won’t be an issue for her.”

Sonam resumed her training on Tuesday morning itself. She was given a rousing reception by trainees of her academy. Anshu Malik, who has qualified for the Tokyo Games in the 57kg division, was present.

“Sab apni betiyan hain and unki safalta hum sab ki hai (they are like daughters and their success is ours),” said Ajmer, a childhood friend of Sonam’s father Rajinder Malik.

OLYMPIC DREAM

“It’s a great homecoming as I was missing home-cooked food. Even before starting from Delhi, I told my mom to cook roti, sabzi and my favourite dal,” said Sonam, who said she would keep dreaming of a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

“This was what I was dreaming about even before qualifying for the Games as it is the ultimate thing for me and my family. Nothing less than a podium finish is acceptable to me,” said Sonam. “My primary focus now is to get rid of my injury as soon as possible and get ready for the big show.”

Sonam was in trouble in her semi-final in 62kg against Asian Championships silver medallist Ayaulym Kassymova of Kazakhstan. She was down 0-6 early but made a stunning comeback to win 9-6. Sonam said: “I didn’t care for my knee pain as my mission was to qualify at all costs; I was sure of winning as soon as the second round began.”

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