Sakshi Malik made history on August 18 this year when she won India’s first medal in female wrestling at Rio Olympics 2016. But her journey to this level has not been so smooth. She had to struggle every bit to make her place as the first woman wrestler from India to win an Olympic medal. Born on September 3, 1992 at Mokhra Village of Rohtak she developed an inclination towards wrestling, a sport considered only for boys. Despite repeated local discouragements she started practice at the age of 10 at Sir Chotu Ram Stadium Wrestling Academy in Rohtak and made headlines when she won silver at Commonwealth Games in 2014 and also Bronze at Senior Asian Wrestling Championship in 2015. In an exclusive interview to Organiser Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar she shares her future planning. Excerpts:
What do you feel on 50th Foundation Day of Haryana?
It is indeed a matter of pride for all of us who are from Haryana. The growth that our State has witnessed all these years made the life of the people better in many ways, and I feel if the progress and
development continues at the same pace it will soon be the number one State in the country. The 50th Foundation Day is also the time for all of us to make more concrete policies which can make the life of the unreached people better.
Haryana has produced largest number of sportspersons in the country. What is so unique in the soil of the State that motivates youth to join sports?
Doodh Dahi Ka Khana, Number One Haryana (the consumption of milk and curd makes the State number one in sports). What could be better food than the milk and curd? Apart from the healthy diet, the mindset of the people is also favourable for sports.
Is there any favourable atmosphere at government level also?
Yes, the Government support is definitely there. Apart from providing sufficient training support, it also offers jobs and awards to the winners. It is sufficient for sports promotion.
What is the attitude of the society, parents, etc towards sports?
It is more good about the boys, but not about the girls. In the beginning, I had to face so many obstacles. Even the people ridiculed me and passed comments to discourage. But now the atmosphere has changed substantially. Even the parents in good number are motivating their daughters to join sports which are considered exclusively for boys. The way the government encourages the sportspersons also helps the parents to think about sports for their children.
What do you feel over the love and affection that people even in remote villages showered at you after winning bronze medal in Rio?
One definitely feels special when everybody extends respect and affection. I feel proud over this achievement. But I am not going to stop here. I will continue my practice to excel and bag more medals at international events.
Do you feel the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign launched by the Government of India now gains more grounds in the State, which is infamous for low female ratio?
The encouraging performance of female sportspersons not only in wrestling but also in other sports is changing the mindset of the people about girls. Now the number of
parents motivating their daughters to join sports is increasing. It will
definitely change the scenario. The girls will surely do wonder in the time to come. Girls have huge talent. They require, if not more but at least equal, support and motivation as that given to the boys.
What is your planning about your career and promotion of sports?
At the moment I am busy in building my own career. I have to stay in wrestling for more years and earn laurels for my country. Then I will
definitely try to impart training to the sportspersons by forming an Academy. I wish to produce even better wrestlers than me.
What else could be done in Haryana for promotion of sports?
The Government is doing a good job. The society needs to be more liberal to the sportspersons. There are still people who feel sport is wastage of time. They should change their mindset. Sport is the field where we can make our country proud all over the world.