NewsIndiaTimes - page 32

News India Times
August 26, 2016
– that’s all you need to know
By Hardev Sanotra
diminutive 23-year-old
girl fromMokhra vil-
lage near Rohtak in
Haryana, Sakshi Malik,
touched glory at the
Rio Olympics onWednesday by
reaching out and grabbing the
only medal India has been able
to win at the 31st Olympiad.
What’s even more astonishing
is that she is the only women
wrestler from the village which
has produced several achievers
in the field.
Sakshi brought an end to
India’s long medal wait, when
every hopeful had failed one by
one. She clinched the bronze in
theWomen’s Freestyle 58kg cate-
gory with a spirited comeback
victory over Aisuluu Tynybekova
of Kyrgyzstan.
The young wrestler over-
turned a 0-5 deficit in a hectic
second round to script an 8-5
victory in the medal bout at the
Carioca Arena 2 here.
“I have stood up to the hopes
of the country for the first
medal. I was confident that I can
win in the end even being down.
The last two hours were the
most difficult for me thinking
whether the medal will come or
not,” she said in her initial com-
ments soon after winning.
“This is the first time that a
medal has come for women. It’s
a success of my 12 years of dedi-
cation. My hard work has suc-
ceeded,” Sakshi said.
It was a rousing display of
fighting spirit and never-say-die
attitude from the Indian.
Aisuluu was clearly the supe-
rior wrestler in the totally one-
sided opening round, displaying
impressive strength and tech-
nique to take five points and
open up a formidable lead.
But Sakshi — who has previ-
ously shown a knack of staging
strong comebacks — was a
totally transformed grappler in
the second round, taking eight
consecutive points to send the
sizable number of Indian fans in
the stands into wild delirium.
Kaori Icho of Japan won the
gold medal in the category while
Russia’s Valeria Koblova — who
had defeated Sakshi in the quar-
ter-finals — took the silver.
Eight-time African champion
Marwa Amri of Tunisia took
home the other bronze medal in
the category.
Icho also created history by
becoming the first-ever wrestler
to win four Olympic titles. She is
also the first female in any sport
to win gold at four Olympics in
an individual event.
Sakshi’s medal capped anoth-
er day of heartbreaks for India
including an unfortunate injury
to Vinesh in the women’s 48kg
Freestyle category that forced
her out of the competition.
“To those who told me I am a
girl and I could not wrestle, I
want to say please show some
trust in girls, they can do every-
thing,” she said.
Later, at an impromptu press
conference, Sakshi was asked if
she was still feeling the pain
from the battering during the
match. “After the medal all the
pain has gone. If I had missed
the medal, all the aches would
have shown up,” she said beam-
“I was confident till the end
that the medal was there and I
told myself, you have to fight.
That’s why I attacked again and
again succeeding after a lot of
effort,” she said, adding that the
medal was dedicated to “every
person who helped me along,
my parents, my coaches and my
training partners.”
She said she was disturbed
and her mind got diverted when
Vinesh, her wrestling colleague,
was injured in another bout and
had to be carried away on a
stretcher. “But then I thought I
must redouble my efforts to get
a medal which she would also
have got.”
She broke out in applause
“yayyyyy,” when someone told
her that her name would now be
taken in the same breath as
Yogeshwar Dutt and Sushil
Kumar, the earlier bronze medal
“When I used to see them I
was in awe how I would be able
to even train with them. My
idols have been men like Sushil
Kumar who paved the way for
our success,” she said.
Right from the beginning, the
Kyrgyz grappler displayed
impressive strength and was
more active in the opening
stages which forced Sakshi to go
on the defensive.
However, the referee invoked
the passivity rule against Sakshi
which handed the Kyrgyz the
first point.
Aisuluu then made a success-
ful takedown to bag another two
points. Aisuluu continued to pile
on the pressure and bagged
another couple of points with
another successful tackle to
build up a healthy 5-0 lead at
the break.
Sakshi made a superb come-
back in the second round, turn-
ing a defensive position into an
offensive one to bag two points
before flipping the Kyrgyz over
to bag another couple of points.
With the momentum firmly
behind her, Sakshi continued to
pile on the pressure before
drawing level with another two-
With just seconds remaining
in the bout, the Indian pulled off
another takedown to take the
lead and make sure of the win.
There was a visible sigh of
relief among officials and coach-
es. Her coach of eight years,
Kuldeep Singh said his heartbeat
had increased after she was five
points down, “as they were of all
He said he told her during the
break that she should “untwine
her fingers from the opponent
and go for her legs. She did that
and gained two points and then
went on to win a match.”
He said her strength lay in her
ability to attack with both the
legs. “I had a lot of hope before
the match, and I kept on telling
her the medal was hers to take.”
The Indian chief coach by the
same name, Kuldeep Singh, said
that the bronze medal match
was the best one because she
showed her true value by com-
ing back from a very low point.
“During the break we
explained to her the mistakes
she was making. The opponent
was placing the weight of her
body on Sakshi without moving
her legs. So we advised that
Sakshi should divert her weight
and attack her,” he said.
Earlier, Sakshi had crashed
out of contention for the gold
medal after a one-sided 2-9 loss
to Valeria in the quarter-finals.
Sakshi, who trailed 0-1 after the
first period, made a comeback
in the initial minutes of the sec-
ond period to go 2-1 up.
She, however, failed to main-
tain the lead as the Russian
overpowered her with some
incredible moves to take an
unassailable 9-2 lead in the
dying minutes. But with Valeria
later making it to the final,
Sakshi qualified for the
repechage round for a shot at
the bronze medal.
She started her bid for the
bronze in superb fashion by
defeating Orkhon Purevdorj of
Mongolia 12-3 in the Repechage
Round 2 to move within striking
distance of a medal. The
Haryana wrestler was too supe-
rior for the 22-year-old
Mongolian and dominated right
from the start.
Sakshi grabbed the early
advantage and effected a take-
down to take a 2-0 lead. But a
loss of balance from Sakshi
allowed the Mongolian to take
two points and make a come-
back. Sakhshi did catch Orkhon
off-guard with an arm-lock
towards the end of the first
round, but could not capitalize
on that.
Sakshi grabbed the initiative
right at the start of the second
round, baging two points with
double leg hold.
But Sakshi’s efforts to pre-
serve her lead by decreasing the
pace cost her dearly as the refer-
ee invoked the passivity rule
against her which allowed
Orkhon to bag another point.
Orkhon then tried to go for a
leg hold but Sakshi came up
with an effective counter-attack
to bring the Mongolian down
before rolling her over to bolster
her lead.
With a comfortable 10-3 lead
behind her, Sakshi produced a
strong finish by coming up with
another take down in the clos-
ing seconds.
Spirited Sakshi Takes Bronze To End India’s Medal Drought At Rio Olympics
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