Sakshi touched down in the Capital in the wee hours and was received by the Ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana. Haryana’s sports and youth affairs minister Anil Vij, who was present in Rio as head of state delegation, accompanied the wrestler on the return flight.
Sakshi then travelled to Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district, where Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar along with his senior cabinet colleagues Capt Abhimanyu and O P Dhankar, among others, welcomed the star athlete.
At the grand felicitation function at Bahadurgarh, Sakshi was handed a cheque of Rs 2.5 crore by the Chief Minister. She was also appointed as Haryana’s brand ambassador for ‘Beti Padhao-Beti Bachao’ programme.
“It is a proud moment for us that girls of the country have done so well. Our two daughters, Sakshi Malik and P V Sindhu (who won a silver medal at the Rio Games), have made the nation proud,” Khattar said. He said that sportspersons from Haryana have once again made the country and their state proud.
“Our government is taking a number of steps for the promotion of sports. Sakshi has made everyone proud including her country, her state, her coaches, her town Rohtak and her family,” Khattar said in the presence of Sakshi’s family members. The CM said Sakshi, who is employed with the Railways, would be soon promoted.
“We have also offered her a Class II job in the Haryana Government. She has said that she will think over it and decide,” Khattar said. On the occasion, Sakshi, in her brief speech, thanked everyone for their support and best wishes.
“I want everyone to support me in future as well so that I can win more medals for my country,” she said.
Hailing ‘Beti Padhao-Beti Bachao’ scheme, Sakshi said, “Now we have added Beti Khilao (encourage girls to take up sports) to this.” The 23-year-old was also honoured with a traditional ‘pagri’ at Bahadurgarh.
Sakshi, who opened India’s medal account at the Rio Games, made multiple stops before reaching her native village, Mokhra, later in the day.
Khattar also announced to set up a Sports Nursery and Stadium for Sakshi’s village — Mokhra Khas, which is also known as ‘pehalwan village’.
“We took a number of steps for the promotion of sports in the State. In future, we are going to recruit 1000 coaches so that at village and block level sports is encouraged,” he said.
All the players from Haryana, who participated in the Rio Olympics, would also also be given Rs 15 lakh each. Khattar said that the Haryana Government had decided to give Rs 6 crore to Olympic gold medal winner, an amount which is highest in the world.
Haryana is a state which is infamous for its skewed sex ratio and Sakshi on Wedneday said upon her arrival at the airport that the girls should be given equal opportunities as boys.
“The girls should be given equal opportunities like boys to express their talent and make the country proud in their chosen field,” she said. Sakshi’s father Sukhbir Malik became very emotional when he met his daughter and saw her medal while receiving her at the airport.
“I am proud of her achievements. In fact, not just me, the entire country is proud of her. She has made the country and her state proud. Her medal belongs to India,” he said.
“Sometimes, some people used to say that she is a girl and this (wrestling) is not good for her. But in 2010, when my daughter won a medal in an event in Russia and later won an Asia Championship, then Commonwealth, everyone wanted to be like Sakshi and emulate what she had done,” Sukhbir said.
A number of people have been flocking the wrestler’s house to congratulate the family after Sakshi became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal.
Sakshi arrives in Delhi to rousing reception
Olympic bronze medal winning wrestler Sakshi Malik arrived here on Wednesday morning to a grand welcome amid scenes of jubilation and loud cheers from scores of people at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Sakshi was greeted by her parents and relatives at the airport after she touched down in the Capital at the wee hours.
Displaying the bronze medal, she waved to the cheering crowds.
“I want to thank each and everyone for such a warm welcome. I’m so happy to see so many people cheering for me. I also want to thank all those who prayed for me, which helped me win the medal for my country,” Sakshi said upon her arrival.
“It was my dream to win an Olympic medal and I worked really hard for that. Now that I have won it, it seems as if I am living my dream,” she added. She also said it was a proud moment for her to become the flag-bearer for India.