Sakshi Malik today scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only fourth female athlete from the country to climb to the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world.
The 23-year-old from Mokhra village near Rohtak in Haryana, a silver medallist at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games beat Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova 8-5 in the bronze medal bout.
Overall, Sakshi has won India’s fifth wrestling medal in the Olympic Games. It is India’s 25th medal in Olympic Games since Independence.
The three Indian women whose names have been forever linked with sporting excellence include -- Karnam Malleswari, MC Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal.
Born on 3 September 1992, Sakshi is also the only women wrestler from the village which has produced several achievers in the field.
Sakshi’s father Sukhbir Malik who is a DTC conductor said that his daughter, before going to Rio, had promised him to bring a medal for the country.
Malik further added that he got very emotional after seeing his daughter win the first medal for the country. “She has won the first medal for the country, I got tears in my eyes. A big day for all of us.”
Elated over her daughter’s historic win, Sakshi’s mother, Sudesh Malik, a social worker, said, “I asked her if she was tired, she said nobody feels tired after winning a medal for country”
Sudesh said that it was a proud moment for the Malik household that their daughter ended the drought. “India’s daughter has stopped India’s medal drought. So proud of her.”
Her achievements in the game of wrestling reflect from the wall of her room where all her winning photographs are hanged. According to Sakshi’s family, the wrestler is very particular about her lifestyle and no one disturbs her when she spends time in her room, which also includes teddy bears.
With this win, Sakshi also brought an end to India's long medal wait at the Rio Games.
Sakhsi’s training in wrestling was started when she was 12-year-old under the guidance of Ishwar Dahiya at an akhara in the Chotu Ram stadium in Rohtak.
Coach Dahiya says that he still remember the days when a 10-year-old girls come with her mother daily to the academy and would also train with the boys.
Weight: 64 kg
Height: 1.62 metres
Started career in 2002
Made her Olympic debut in Brazil this year
In 2010, Sakshi won a Bronze at the 2010 Junior World Championships in the 59-kg category.
She came to the international limelight after taking home the Gold at the Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament (60-kg) in 2014.
In July-August 2014, she won a silver medal in Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from where her professional international career began.
She won Bronze medal in Senior Asian Wrestling Championships in Doha in May 2015.
In July 2016, Sakshi won again Bronze at the Spanish Grand Prix in 60kg category.