Sushil, Yogeshwar served as motivation for Rio performance - Sakshi

Sakshi Malik reflects on her performance at the Rio Olympics in 2016, when she won a bronze medal.

Sakshi Malik became India’s first female wrestler to win an Olympic medal, in 2016.   -  Getty Images

Sakshi Malik said on Wednesday the achievements of Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt in the Olympics motivated her to win a medal at the Rio Games in 2016. Sakshi became India’s first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal when she defeated reigning Asian champion Aisuluu Tynybekova 8-5 in the 58kg category, despite trailing 5-0 at one stage, in the repechage medal playoff.

“I had been playing sports since I was a child but had little idea about the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games,” Sakshi said.

“It was after I got into wrestling and started winning medals at a junior level that the interest in these events started going up. Later on, as Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt started winning medals including at the Olympics, it served as a huge motivation for me,” Sakshi said during a wrestling session of E-Pathshala, the athlete and coach education programme of the Sports Authority of India conducted in association with the Wrestling Federation of India.

Reflecting on her bronze-medal win in Rio, she said it took time for the achievement to sink in.

Unforgettable moment

“When I reached that bronze medal match, I didn’t want to lose at the final hurdle. My coach kept telling me that [I was] better than [my opponent]. It was a tough match and only at the very end was I able to win. I can’t explain in words what the feeling of winning was, I didn’t know whether to laugh or smile or cry,” she said.

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“My coach explained to me that my life will change after this medal but when I grow old, it is a precious memory that will always remain with me. I am very grateful for all the love the country has given me after I won the Olympic bronze.”

E-Pathshala was also attended by WFI coach Jagmandar Singh as well as technical officials and referees.

During her interaction, Sakshi spoke on the importance of these sessions. “This is a very good initiative by SAI and WFI. In these difficult times, when even we can’t train properly, with these sessions you can stay at home and learn a lot.”