New Delhi: Haryana on Thursday honoured its ‘daughter’ Sakshi Malik by appointing her as brand ambassador of the Prime Minister’s flagship ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign and presenting the Olympic bronze medallist a cheque of Rs 2.5 crore.
A rousing reception in the capital, after the freestyle wrestler arrived from Rio de Janeiro in the wee hours, was followed by another grand welcome by the Haryana government.
Sakshi, who ended India’s medal drought at the Rio Olympics, was greeted by her parents, relatives and ministers of the state government at the Indira Gandhi International Airport’s terminal 3.
The 23-year-old, who is the first woman wrestler from India to win an Olympic medal, then travelled to Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district, where she was felicitated by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
The victory procession, with the bedecked vehicle blaring songs about ‘Haryana ki beti Sakshi Malik’ (Haryana’s daughter Sakshi Malik) made its way through villages and narrow roads lined up by scores of people.
Despite being jet-lagged and sleep deprived, Sakshi waved at the crowds who danced, garlanded and took selfies with her.
“My 12-year long dream has been fulfilled. But I will work hard to change the colour of my medal at next Olympics,” Sakshi said.
At her village Mokhra Khas in Rohtak, Sakshi was honoured by the village panchayat, minister Ram Bilas Sharma, besides Congress MP from Rohtak, Deepinder Singh Hooda and senior opposition leader from the INLD, Abhay Singh Chautala.
Sakshi, who clinched a bronze in the 58-kg category freestyle wrestling event, proudly displayed the medal to the cheering crowds enroute. Besides her parents, brother, sister and other family members, women wrestlers from her academy in Rohtak were also there to welcome her.
Meanwhile, in a faux pas, Khattar forgot Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu’s full name and believed she was from Karnataka.
“It’s a proud moment for us that two of our daughters won medals on Raksha Bandhan festival. Sakshi Malik from Haryana and Sindhu (asks others what is her name) … P V Sindhu from Karnataka (Sindhu is from Hyderabad),” he said.
Notably, the Khattar government had also announced a Rs 50 lakh reward for Sindhu. Khattar said that sportspersons from Haryana have again made the country and state proud.
“Our government is taking a number of steps for the promotion of sports. Sakshi has made everyone proud including her country, her state, her coaches, her town Rohtak and her family,” Khattar said in the presence of Sakshi’s family members.
The CM said Sakshi, who is employed with the Railways, has been promised a promotion by its employer.
“We have also offered her a Class II job in the Haryana Government. She has said that she will think over it and decide,” Khattar said.