Rio 2016 wrestling bronze-medallist and India’s first and only woman wrestler to have won an Olympic medal, Sakshi Malik, is gearing up for the 2020 Tokyo Games with an aim to equal Sushil Kumar's historic feat of winning two Olympic medals.
“My aim is to equal Sushil Kumar's historic feat by winning an Olympic medal at Tokyo in 2020. I am completely focussed to achieve that goal. I want to become a double Olympic medallist just like Sushil ji," Sakshi told PTI.
“For the Olympics, one has to start his/her training four years in advance and I have already started my training accordingly," she added.
Sakshi said her immediate goal is to prepare for the World Championships, to be held later this year.
“My target this year is to do well at the World Championships. As of now, I am also planning to participate at the Asian Championship, to be held in Delhi, in May. Besides, I am looking forward to bagging gold medals at next year's Commonwealth and Asian Games," Sakshi, who became India's first woman wrestler to bag an Olympic medal at Rio last year, said.
The 24-year-old admitted that life has completely transformed after the Olympic medal and it felt good when people recognise her.
"Life has changed for good. People recognise me a lot more now and it gives a very good feeling. It also inspires me to do better."
Whether it adds extra pressure to perform well every time she takes the mat, Sakshi said: "Yes, no doubt the pressure has increased manifold and every time I come on mat there is a huge burden of expectations that I carry on my shoulders. But that also motivates me to work harder and improve upon my game. I am trying to iron out all my flaws and train better.
“In a way that helps me prepare better and I am more confident now when I fight my bouts."
Sakshi was the captain of Delhi Sultans team at the Pro Wrestling League this season and although she did well, her team failed to make the semifinals.
“Personally for me, I did win all my bouts and that gives a lot of satisfaction. I also learnt a lot from other foreign wrestlers. Last season also I learnt many new things and that had helped me during the Olympics.
“This time also I managed to pick up a few tricks of the trade from some experienced wrestlers and I am sure that will hold me in good stead at the international tournaments. It was an invaluable experience, even though my team failed to make the cut.
(With inputs from PTI)