Sarita Mor treats her World No.1 ranking as a source of motivation to work towards her target of landing a medal in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Sarita bagged a bronze medal in the World championships last year, an Asian championship bronze in April and a gold in the just-concluded Bolat Turylkhanov Ranking Series event in Almaty to become the top ranked wrestler in the women’s 59kg category.
“Whether it’s happiness or sadness, I have a balanced approach towards both. Of course, the World No.1 ranking provides a bit of motivation. I used to look at other World No.1s and think one day I should be like them,” Sarita told Sportstar .
The field in Almaty might not be big, but Sarita valued the exposure. “When I saw the field it was better in 59kg than in 57kg. So I decided to compete in 59kg as there were some Worlds and Asian medalists in the field. Several of them did not turn up at the last minute. Still, it was a good competition.”
Sarita, who claimed consecutive Asian championship titles in 2020 and 2021 and stunned defending champion Linda Morais of Canada in the first round on her way to landing a Worlds medal in Oslo, Norway, last year, said she started getting good results after changing her approach.
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Sarita credited her wrestler husband Rahul Mann for her improvement. “For the last five years, Rahul has been working with me to change my game. I am a learner. I am trying to bring that change into my game. I have not reached 100 per cent of what I can do, but I am determined to achieve it.
“I need to make several changes and improve my game. I know where I make mistakes. After three-and-a-half years, I managed to do some part of it. Earlier my game was very defensive. Now my game has become attacking. That is the biggest change in my game.”
Rahul said, “Earlier, Sarita used to wait for the opponent to launch her counterattack. I asked her, ‘If the opponent does not initiate an attack, will you not do anything?’
“There is a saying in Haryanvi, ‘Pehla mare, so jite’ (Whosoever strikes first, wins). She worked on her game from being a counter-attacking to an attacking wrestler.”
Sarita makes a realistic assessment of her occasional defeats, such as the one in the Asian championships semifinals in Ulaanbaatar or the one in the Commonwealth Games trials in Delhi.
“Sometimes, due to various reasons, the body does not work the way it should. We think of doing something, but are not able to execute it.
“In Mongolia (the Asian championships), the schedule was a little hotchpotch and I had to fight bouts with small intervals. It has its effect on the mind. Besides, my body was not at its best due to the high altitude.
“In the selection trials (for the Commonwealth Game), I gave my 100 percent despite fighting in five bouts. There may be other reasons why I lost there.”
Sarita looks forward to doing well in bigger events, such as forthcoming World championships and Asia Games and the 2024 Olympics.
“I want to give my best till 2024, which is a very important year. It will be very competitive. In India, there is so much competition that we kind of play in a World level event here only. Lots of girls are coming these days. In the trials, you find 12-13 girls almost in each weight.
“I know I have to compete in 57kg in the big Games. But that’s not a problem as my normal body weight stays around 61-62kg. I know 57kg is going to be tough with a lot of good wrestlers competing in this weight in our country.
“This time I will try to get the belt (at the World championships). But the main focus is on winning a medal in the Olympics. Now I am confident that I can get medals in top competitions,” said Sarita.