Chandigarh: In the early hours of Thursday, India acquired its first medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Sakshi Malik was the one to do it for the country, whose athletic contingent has thus far flattered to deceive in Brazil, by capturing the bronze medal (through Repechage) in the 58-kg category of Women’s Freestyle Wrestling. After losing the Quarterfinal to eventual finalist Koblova Zholobowa, Sakshi went on to win the Repêchage against Mongolia’s Orkhon Purevdorj, and then Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova.
The medal is rendered all the more significant in that it was won after Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi’s wrestling peer in the 48-kg category, was forced to retire hurt early into her Semifinal bout after a promising display, earlier on Wednesday.
Sakshi Malik scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only fourth female athlete from the country to climb to the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world. Overall, Sakshi has won India’s fifth wrestling medal in the Olympic Games. It is India’s 25th medal in Olympic Games.
Born on September 3, 1992, in Rohtak, Haryana, Sakshi Malik has her supportive parents, Sudesh and Sukhbir, to thank for encouraging her in her unusual career choice.
The 23-year-old from Mokhra village began her training in wrestling as a 12-year-old under the guidance of Ishwar Dahiya at an akhara in the Chotu Ram stadium. Her grooming was helped along by having to fight a lot of boys, in a region where the sport was ‘not for girls’. In fact, Dahiya faced protests from locals when he took Sakshi under his wing.
Sakshi Mallik’s win at the Rio Olympics can be considered as a protest to the female foeticide that takes place every year in Haryana. It seemed as a big reply to the malpractice that continues till today in her city. Bihar is placed at the top out of all the states in India, in case of female foeticide. Such instances are a regular practice. The most alarming fact is that not a single case is registered with the police on foeticism. Birth of females is considerd a boon to many parts of our Indian society.
Every cloud has a silver lining. From such a city, Sakshi has evolved as the best women wrestler after her win today at Rio. Celebrities, sports personalities and several others from every sparks of life has poured in praises for this girl. The President and the Prime Minister have even tweeted their congratulatory messages in Sakshi’s favour.
Reports state that Haryana has the largest case of reported female foeticide. Though it needs more time to break away from the century old superstition, but such an evolvement proves a positive note. And women will find out the way to completely oust such a superstition.