Mumbai: Sakshi Malik has come a long way since her humble beginnings in wrestling. Born in rural Mokhra, some 25 kilometres away from Rohtak in Haryana, it took 12 years of toil and hard work to open the way to Rio.
On her return to India, the Haryana girl brought along a prestigious bronze, etching her name into the history books as the first Indian woman wrestler to bag a medal at the Olympics.
Her success was not only a massive boost for the sport in the country but also provided a major uplift for women’s empowerment, particularly in Haryana, where girls still don’t gain the upper hand over the opposite gender.
While there is a skewed sex ratio in the state, the baby-faced wrestler has changed the wrestling stereotype predominated by males.
“The stereotype has changed quite a lot in the past few months. Wrestling was termed as a male sport, but now the mindset has completely changed.
“When I started, there were very few wrestlers. Not only boys, a lot of girls are involved in the sport.
“Now parents come to me and ask how to get their daughters into wrestling. They also ask me about training, nutrition and other stuff.
“So I feel really proud having changed the mindset in Haryana. Facilities are also improving day by day and I feel the sport will just get better with time,” the 25-year-old said in an exclusive interview.
Asked how she prepared mentally ahead of each bout, the grappler stated it all boiled down to training well.
“Wrestling is more of a contact sport but it’s very crucial to train your mind as well.
“Mental preparation mainly depends on the type of training you do. Your confidence level increases after each training session, your mind gets stronger knowing that you have prepared well,” she explained.