She may be India’s first and only woman wrestler to have won an Olympic medal but that does not seem enough for Sakshi Malik as she now aims to equal Sushil Kumar’s historic feat of winning two Olympic medals at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“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 said.
“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 semi-finals. “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.”
“I think Bajrang Punia’s injury cost us the most. Otherwise we had a very good team. We fought well but lost quite a few close bouts. There were a couple of upsets as well that had turned things around. We also lost four out of five tosses and some of our best wrestlers were blocked by the opposition teams. So luck was another factor that did not favour us too much this time,” explained Sakshi, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Games in women’s 58kg.
The owner of Delhi Sultans, Anurag Batra also believed that the franchise fielded a strong team but the most expensive Indian wrestler of PWL-2, Bajrang’s injury marred their chances in the tournament.
“I do not regret paying Bajrang the maximum money. He is a very good wrestler and had he been fit, things would have been different for us today. We have lost most of our matches 3-4. Had we managed to pull off a couple of close bouts, we would have been in the semi-finals.
“But things sometimes don’t go as planned. That’s part and parcel of every sport. But we had a very good team and I would like to retain most of the players in the next season as well. They are all very good. Coaches and support staff were fantastic.” said Batra.