Sakshi Malik The wrestling star defying stereotypes in India | Shakti

Sakshi Malik The wrestling star defying stereotypes in India | Shakti

Again going for the leg
this time. Malik is quick to defend it. (MOKHRA VILLAGE
HARYANA, INDIA) She’s going to try
and convert this into an attacking position
here. And it is an extra point added
for the failed challenge. Last few seconds here. Can she manage to
get something here? And she’s got it! Sakshi Malik has taken
the bronze medal! Sakshi Malik
is absolutely jubilant. When she won the medal, I was overwhelmed and carried
her on my shoulders. I can’t lift her up now – she is so strong
my spine will break. But when I carried her then,
Rio 2016, I didn’t feel it’s Sakshi, I felt as if I am carrying
nation’s pride. I used to think “God, I just
want a medal from Olympics “and then you can
take my life back.” Winning in front of
the world audience and standing on
the Olympic podium is the best feeling in life. If you are determined enough
and have faith in your dreams, a hundred percent
it will come true. If I can win a medal
from Olympics, then trust me,
anything is possible. (SHAKTI
OF NORTHERN INDIA) My comeback entry in my village
happened on a tractor. From every single house, I was offered glasses of milk
as a mark of love and respect. Imagine my stomach? How much would I drink? To keep them happy
I accepted a few milk glasses and then made my father
and brother drink the rest. Talk about medals and so far
we have had 17 or 18 athletes who have qualified
on an international level out of which six or seven
are medallists. Now, the whole world
is aware of Olympics as the biggest sport event and to qualify for its five
rings is a herculean task. The girl who won the gold,
Kaori Icho, has always been my idol and I never imagined
in my wildest dreams that I will be standing
with her on the same podium. After the medal,
country’s expectation rises. People expect me to win
all the time now and get more medals. There’s too much pressure, but I overcome
only by reminding myself that I need to be my best
on the mat. (KABADDI
I used to love local sports and would participate in many – running, shot put,
kabaddi etc. But I always wanted to
choose something special. Once I saw a picture of our
senior wrestler in a newspaper carrying Hanuman Ji’s Mace
on his shoulder and it inspired me so much
that I told my parents, “I want to be
a wrestling champion.” I knew that only champions
get the traditional mace. When she expressed her desire
to be a wrestler, her father was OK with it
but I was hesitant and aware about wrestlers
having injured and broken ear. So it took a while for me
to agree but only on one condition – that she must not
break her ear. Our village is the biggest
in Haryana and it has had many wrestlers
since old times. So now wrestling
is a culture here. Various sport academies
one may run, but our kid will choose
only an akhara, or mat. Wrestling is a legacy, a system of the region,
and runs in the blood. So our village has many young
athletes, but mostly wrestlers. A broken ear,
also called cauliflower ear, is a common sign in wrestling. And here the wisdom is that
“If you don’t have broken ear, “you are not even
a true wrestler.” Earlier I used to think, as a wrestler
how far I will go, as Indian girls cannot make it
to Olympics anyway? I used to think this way because I had no proper
facilities and there was nothing. I would see just two or
three girls on the mat, with different weights
categories, like 75 kgs and 48 kgs. None of them
were my weight category and I couldn’t find anyone
to practise and compete with. If there are 1,000 centres
for boys then there has to be some
provision for 1,000 girls too. If our society
considers them equal then we should have 1,000 boys and 700 girls
in wrestling centres. But unfortunately,
there are just two or three wrestling academies for girls
2015) Each one of us goes through
problems and battles every day. My problem was always about
society’s sick mentality that girls couldn’t wrestle
as it is meant for males. (HARYANA IS A REGION
FOR WOMEN) They don’t let women step in
an akhara or step on the mat. They have a pathetic belief that women get
menstrual periods and if they step onto mat
or akhara it would become impure
and desecrated. They say male wrestlers
get injured because of girls on the mat and they don’t perform well.
What is this logic anyway? My parents considered me
and my brother equal but I heard that lot of girls
and my colleagues were not allowed to participate
in sports and were married off
without their consent. Since then I have this
angst and hatred for this backward-thinking
society. Girls get married
at early age here. So my parents got me married
too when I was too young and I couldn’t revolt. This gender stereotyping
is now slowly changing because it’s we girls who
are winning medals for them. After Sakshi’s medal,
a transformation has happened as now many parents call me
for their daughters’ training. I have decided that after
my stint as the head coach, I will make a sport academy
only for girls so that they can
choose their own sport, be it wrestling or kabaddi
or any game. Now parents want their girls
to exceed beyond boys, be it sports or education. The world just saw
that boys were just OK, but our girls
are making history and bringing India
the global fame and pride. When I first qualified,
a lot of experts from abroad would come and see this place,
this raw village, and would ask me
how did I qualify? They would wonder that if I
could qualify for Olympics in this condition
then I could do anything. I tell you something – when dream and dedication
crosses limit, then anything is possible. Be it thunder, storm,
come what may, it doesn’t stop her
from practising. She has natural speed and she attacks
like a war missile, really! When she attacks
it’s unstoppable, dangerous. She uses multi techniques
and that’s her strength. She is focused, strategic,
hard worker who plays out whole six minutes
in a bout without getting tired. There are many wrestlers
who work hard and have power and speed
but what is crucial is never to cheat
with your training. It’s very important
to be disciplined. To win a medal in Olympics, hard work is a must
on all functions including psychological,
strength, stamina and flexibility. Only with a combination
of these can one think of a medal. If you lose any thread
anywhere, a medal is impossible. All aspects are essential, and that’s why we have different training schedule
in a week. A physical training
would be like 400m run, running exercises,
partner exercises, double planks, 500, 1,000,
push-ups, etc. There are mat sessions, gym sessions and conditioning sessions also. Our coach helps us
with technique and skill improvement. We advise techniques
and strategies according to the kind of
athlete one is, whether an attacker
or a defender. We devise the strategy based on
the skill set of the opponents. Every individual has
a different body movement. Some have diagonal
body movement and some have
straight movements. Mostly straight-moving body
uses double leg attack. A diagonal body
will start from single leg and then moves to double so the chances of scoring
stands high. Many wrestlers
are only defensive, like if an opponent
is vulnerable they won’t take advantage but
will only defend to be safe. That’s the moment
where I try and cover a point. My favourite is leg,
double leg attack, also helped me earn
an Olympic medal. Most athletes who have made it
to international level have had injuries and almost everyone has
gone through a knee operation. It was in 2014
that I got injured. I was devastated when
I heard from the doctor that I have no option
but to undergo knee operation. My world had collapsed. I cried non-stop for three days and I thought my sport career
has ended. I took four days just to decide
whether to get operated or not, and was almost sure that
a surgery means everything is over. It was a painful long
three-month gap as that knee injury
was extreme and I had to stay away from
the mat. I had heard of cases where
athletes had to quit their game because of injury.
I was hopeless. The coach and doctors kept
mentioning about the cases where great damages had
recovered from total damage. That indeed was the toughest
time of my life. Slowly, I dusted myself off
and got to practising on mat. I was determined
to come back and win. I did.
Now after all these years, I only picture myself mentally
that I am standing once again on the Olympic podium
and that I have a medal and that my country flag
is up and waving. Olympics has become
more competitive and my goal is to train harder and perform my best
in Tokyo 2020. She has got one medal
and people celebrate but they will forget
in no time. She has to get a medal
and people will remember her for four years, eight years and her name will be carved
in the Indian history. I feel that my glass
is still half empty, that I know half of what
wrestling is, and that there is so much
to learn. I have to change
the colour of my medal. Post Olympics,
I have had the luxury to travel across the globe and stay in 5-star
and 7-star hotels, but let me speak my heart out. I find my happiness here,
on this wrestling mat only. This is my home.


  1. The time when you feel pleasure in your pain to overcome all odds of your life to get what you want to get.
    Congratulations you are definitely going to get it💪💪💪💪🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳

  2. She will pride of haryana and india always ever and ever 🥇👍👏🙏 I live in Maharashtra and belongs to haryana. That night she won the medal and early morning , when I travelled from one place to other place through local train, peoples were reading the newspaper and talking about the sports of haryana .That was very proud moment .It can't be explain in words.

  3. india should participate in all games in olympics other than concentrating only on cricket,all the best for 2020,love to my country jai hind

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