From yearning to fly in an aeroplane as a kid to clinching a bronze in the Olympics, the biggest sporting stage of all, Haryana wrestler Sakshi Malik has come a long way in her fairy-tale journey to etch her name in the sporting history of the country.
Born into a humble family at Mokhra village near Rohtak, Sakshi tried playing kabaddi and cricket in her childhood but wrestling became her favourite sport after she started “winning bouts”. But, little did she and her parents knew at that time that one day she would become the first woman wrestler from the country to win an Olympic medal.
Sakshi on Wednesday ended the country’s painful wait for a medal at the Rio Olympic Games by clinching the bronze medal in the 58kg category, pulling off a sensational 8-5 victory over her rival in the play-off bout.
The 23-year-old wrestler also became only the fourth woman athlete from India to win an Olympic medal as she earned the dramatic win after falling behind 0-5 in the do-or-die bout on day 12. Her bronze is the country’s fifth medal overall in wrestling in the Olympics.
“I never knew what an Olympics was, I wanted to become a sportsperson to travel in an aeroplane. If you can represent India, you can board a plane, and fly,” Sakshi said on the sidelines of a marathon round of interviews to hordes of elated Indian scribes late into the night at the Main Press Centre here.
Interestingly, her elder brother was named after cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachin, who’s two-years older to her, would ask Sakshi to play cricket, but she would often say ‘no’ and would stare at the sky with aeroplanes flying high. Her family always supported her to pursue her dream.