With improved defence, Sakshi Malik confident of CWG gold

The Rio bronze-winner, Sakshi, has tweaked her leg defence, on the insistence of her coach Kuldeep Singh Malik, something that has already got her a gold, in the Commonwealth Championships, in December 2017.

Sakshi Malik refused to go into the details of the new technique that she has worked on.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

A new defensive technique added to her repertoire, Olympic bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik is confident that she would fetch her maiden Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold medal, when she takes the mat, in the Gold Coast, in April.

The Rio bronze-winner has tweaked her leg defence, on the insistence of her coach Kuldeep Singh Malik, something that has already got her a gold, in the Commonwealth Championships, in December 2017.

Sakshi, however, refused to go into the details of the new technique that she has worked on. “I can’t give the details of the techniques. But as I said, I’m looking for a gold medal and more confident now.”

READ: Navjot Kaur clinches gold, Sakshi wins bronze

In February 2018, a controversial decision, in the qualification bout, against eventual silver-medallist Luo Xiaojuan, of China, cost Sakshi a place in the final of the Asian Championship, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“Life has changed completely (post-Rio). There’s more responsibility on me now — to win more and more medals for India. I hope CWG is the beginning, ahead of the Asian Games, in Indonesia, later in 2018, and the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The target is to win a gold medal, for the country, in Australia. Preparation is going great and I’m giving my 100 per cent, training twice a day,” Sakshi said, from SAI Centre, in Lucknow.

According to her coach, Kuldeep Singh Malik, her leg defence has improved, that will help her hold and attack. “It’s a work in progress, till we achieve 100 per cent. It certainly makes a difference, not only in defence, but in the speed,” the coach said.

ALSO READ: Sakshi: ‘Preparations going well for CWG, Asian Games’

Apart from training, Sakshi’s preparations include watching videos of her possible opponents, from Canada and Nigeria. “Canada and Nigeria will be the strong opponents. I’m preparing myself by watching their videos, the techniques,” she said.

The wrestler, who competes for Mumbai Maharathi, as captain, in the Pro Wrestling League (PWL), said that the experience has been very helpful.

“There’s scope to learn something when we fight against or train with big names from foreign countries. I have improved a lot in my techniques and style, due to PWL,” the 25-year-old said.

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Four years ago, at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, Sakshi, who was competing at the women’s 58kg, then, failed to give any challenge to Aminat Adeniyi.

The Nigerian took a lead of 10-0 in two minutes and 24 seconds, when the match had to be stopped on grounds of technical superiority. But after her historic Rio performance, Sakshi will head to the Gold Coast as a strong medal hope.

“Everyone expects a gold from me. I will give my best and hope to upgrade my (last edition’s) Commonwealth silver into a gold this time. The Olympic medal gives me a lot of inspiration, and my confidence has grown after that. After getting the medal, I am able to understand wrestling more.”

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