2019 World Wrestling Championship: Sakshi Malik looks to carve glory
The 58kg-category grappler Sakshi Malik will be the cynosure of all eyes as the entire nation gears up for the marquee event, starting from September 14.
The upcoming week is set to be filled with some high-octane action and nerve-wracking encounters as the World Wrestling Championship 2019 kicks off in Kazakhstan's futuristic capital Nur-Sultan from September 14 to 22. The much-anticipated Championship tournament will bring back all the intensity, rivalries, and buzz among wrestling fans of the country. With some of the biggest names in the roster, this year’s Championship tournament will draw even more attention as it will serve as the first qualifying event for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The six contenders who finish at the top in each Olympic weight category will secure their respective Olympic berths for their nations.
The Indian contingent will look forward to a fleeting campaign at the Championship tournament as they take on their global counterparts in respective weight categories. While the Indian side will boast itself with names like Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and others, 58kg-category grappler Sakshi Malik will be the cynosure of all eyes as the entire nation gears up for the marquee event. The Rohtak wrestler will be expected to take the world by storm over the course of the championship event with brilliant glimpses of her vintage self.
While a resilient Vinesh Phogat took Indian women’s wrestling to unprecedented heights in international tournaments, it was her compatriot Sakshi who made a breakthrough at the World Championship, much at a time when women’s wrestling did not achieve its ultimate goal, at least till the Rio 2016 Olympics. Rio Olympics was never an easy path to tread on, especially with Geeta Phogat in her weight category.
Young Sakshi hogged the limelight when she claimed her first-ever Sub-Junior Nationals in the year 2006; she fine-tuned her game and continued her remarkable feat this time at the international stage, for only three years later she went on to win a silver medal at the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in Manila in the 59kg category. Sakshi marched several steps ahead to climb a notch higher with a bronze medal-winning performance at the Junior World Championship in 2010. Four years later came the Commonwealth Games. She was guaranteed exposure during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which in turn, helped her win a silver medal at the Glasgow Games. That leap could be made only through systematic exposure and moulding, as she enjoyed the build-up and established herself as one of the strong contenders for the Olympics in two years’ time.
Then followed Geeta’s expulsion as she could barely get hold of the competition with an early-round exit, thus losing out on a narrow chance to secure her place in the Olympics. Sakshi, with a fine show at the Istanbul tournament, guided her way to glory with a ticket to Rio. She continued her stupendous feat, winning her first medal, a bronze, at the Olympics. She ended up becoming the first female wrestler from India to win a medal at the Olympics. But her joy seemed short-lived, for she hasn’t been able to make a bigger mark since Rio 2016. Perhaps, as the Indian contingent does the spadework for the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza, Sakshi will be keyed up to change gears ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in a bid to repeat her 2018 quarterfinal performance at the World Championship.