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Wrestling

'My Olympic medal brought significant changes in Rohtak': Sakshi Malik

Sakshi also said the success of women's wrestlers in India debunked the misconceptions about girls wrestling.

My Olympic medal brought significant changes in Rohtak: Sakshi Malik
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Sakshi Malik is India's lone Olympic medal-winning woman wrestler. 

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 6 July 2024 9:45 AM GMT

Wrestler Sakshi Malik, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said winning an Olympic medal not only fulfills the goal of the athlete but also the lives of their family, society and village, encouraging children to play sport.

"An Olympic dream is not just an athlete's dream; it's the dream of an entire family. Winning an Olympic medal transforms not only the life of the athlete but also the lives of their family, society, and village," Sakshi said at a media event in Mumbai organised by JSW Sports on Friday.

Sakshi, who became India's first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal in the 58kg category, said her home town of Rohtak underwent several changes since she won the Olympic medal eight years ago.

"After my medal, significant changes occurred. The Chhotu Ram Stadium in Rohtak, where I trained, went from having a tin roof to becoming an AC hall. A stadium was even built in my village and named after me," said Sakshi.

Talking about the impact of an Olympic medal, the 31-year-old said, "An Olympic medal creates numerous opportunities, especially for children, allowing them to train in better facilities."

"The craze for wrestling in Haryana has surged. Everywhere you go, there's a stadium every ten minutes, and you'll find girls training in each one. The old mindset that girls couldn't wrestle has changed dramatically," she added.

Misconceptions busted

Sakshi also talked about how the success of women's wrestlers in India debunked the misconceptions about girls playing the sport.

Of India's six-member wrestling contingent for the Paris Olympics, five are women's wrestlers -Vinesh Phogat (50kg), Antim Panghal (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Nisha Dahiya (68kg) and Reetika Hooda (76kg).

"The misconceptions that girls are impure and shouldn't participate in wrestling have been debunked. Now, girls are proving that they too can excel in wrestling," she said.

“There was a time when people believed that girls couldn't wrestle, but today, this has changed. For the first time, five girls are going to the Olympics for wrestling while only one boy is going. Girls, who were once suppressed, are now boldly stepping forward and excelling in wrestling," she added.

"After my medal win, no one enters wrestling merely thinking about securing a job or a benefit. They now start with the goal of winning an Olympic medal. This shift in mindset is incredibly inspiring," said Sakshi.

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