Thanks to wrestler, Sakshi Malik, India has won its first Olympic medal in Rio.
On Day 12 of the games, the 23-year-old wrestler from Mokhra Village near Rohtak, India delighted her entire country after winning the bronze medal in the 58kg women’s wrestling category.
After falling behind with a score of 0-5, Malik managed to make an amazing comeback and take an 8-5 victory over Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova thereby becoming the the fourth Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in history, and first Indian female wrestler.
Though you might not have guessed from her phenomenal performance, Malik’s journey to the Olympics hasn’t been the easiest. As BBCreported, Malik was born in India’s Haryana state, which forbid girls from training with boys until 2002.
In a video, Malik told ESPN, she was inspired to take up the sport 11-12 years ago after watching her grandfather wrestle. With her parent’s support, Malik started her training at the age of 12, despite disapproval from other people around her.
According to BBC, “Media reports say locals initially berated her parents, telling them that their daughter would become un desirable to potential suitors.” Despite the challenging start, Malik’s father, Sukhvir Malik, told BBC, “Sakshi is now known to the entire country. People have been celebrating outside our house since last night.”
“She trained extremely hard day and night. She had promised me [she would] bring a medal and she has done that,” he said.
After winning her bronze medal, Malik tweeted a message to India dedicating her victory to the country along with a video of herself holding her medal, thanking everyone for their support and encouragement.
Social media celebrates Malik’s win
Malik’s win also sparked a great deal of praise from fans on social media who were eager to congratulate her and celebrate the victory for India.
Another dream of comes true
Malik told ESPN in a video that she originally pursued wrestling because she dreamed of traveling. “When I began I didnt know what the Olympics, Asian, Commonwealth Games were,” she said. “For me it was just: I need to wrestle and get on a flight. I used to practice hoping it could get me to sit on a plane.”
Following her Olympic victory, something very special happened. India Today reported that Ashwani Lohani, chief of national airline Air India, was so touched by Malik’s tale that he offered Malik two complimentary business class tickets for her and a guest.
In a letter addressed to Malik, Lohani wrote, “Air India is indeed proud to offer you two (for you and your companion) return business class between any two destinations of the entire Air India network valid for a period of one year.”
Malik’s bronze medal is currently India’s fifth overall Olympic medal in wrestling.