Story of aggression and grit

Geetika Jakhar was initiated into wrestling in her hometown, Hissar (Haryana), at a very young age. She was a very aggressive girl and her grandfather thought wrestling was the best way to harness her energies.

Once Geetika developed a passion for the sport, her father Satvir decided to admit her to a proper training programme, obviously with the intention of making her an international star. But then, `akhara' wrestling was not the best way to go about it. However, Haryana's decision to force the `akharas' to provide mats helped Geetika in her early development.

Geetika joined a state-run academy in Hissar and started winning medals by displaying her grit. Her first major break came when she won the gold medal in the 67kg category at the Asian Junior Championship in 2001. A year later, she reached the final in the Asian Championship in New Delhi scoring impressive wins en route. In the final though, Geetika gave up midway through the bout and had to settle for a silver.

Her determination to excel saw Geetika drop her weight by over 10 kilos. She competed in the 55kg category at the Commonwealth Championship in Canada in 2003 and won the gold. In 2005 she successfully defended her title in Cape Town, South Africa, but in the World Junior Championship in Lithuania a week later, Geetika had to be content with a silver medal.

Geetika finally decided that 63kg was her best option for the Asian Games.

The silver medal she won in Doha was just reward for the years of toil she had put in. And by Indian standards, it was a memorable achievement, for it was after a gap of 16 years that any Indian had made it to the final of the wrestling competition in the Asian Games. Ombir Singh was the last grappler to enter a final at the Asian Games — in Beijing.

The loss in the final, that too by a fall to Japanese Icho Kaori, will haunt Geetika, but she has written a new chapter in Indian women's wrestling.