Scripting history, Haryana girl Sakshi Malik has finally ended India’s long and agonising wait to secure an Olympic medal in Rio, by winning a bronze in the women’s wrestling 58 kg category. Sakshi clinched the medal by beating Kyrgystan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova in a nail-biting finish. She is the fourth Indian female athlete to have won an Olympic medal, after Karnam Malleshwari, MC Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal.

This win has, most likely, brought about a huge change in her life, with a number of cash awards coming her way, after her brilliant performance put an end to India’s medal drought. With her gritty display, she is all set to receive a bumper prize of Rs 2 crore, along with some land in Haryana, from the state government, while the railways have promised Rs 50 lakh for the bronze medal winner. Likewise, the National Olympic body has announced Rs 20 lakh, while the coach will be given about fifty per cent of what the winning athlete receives. Moreover, JSW will give Malik Rs 15 lakh, while Salman Khan has promised Rs 1 lakh to each Indian athlete.

Here are five things that you should know about Sakshi Malik, our champion wrestler who hails from the small town of Rohtak, Haryana

  • Sakshi is the first Indian woman wrestler to have won a medal at the Olympics.

 

  • She is the fourth Indian wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics, after Sushil Kumar, Khashaba Jadhav and Yogeshwar Dutt.

 

  • She hails from Haryana, a state renowned for being one of the most conservative in the nation, and where misogyny and patriarchy thrive. Women are usually confined to their homes, and honour killing is common, as is sex-selective abortion. Thus it’s heartening that Sakshi began training at the tender age of 12, eventually breaking all gender barriers, and emerging victorious in this fight against patriarchy. Even in the face of protests from villagers, this determined woman trained under the guidance of Ishwar Dahiya.

 

  • Winning seems to be in her blood, since she was inspired by her grandfather, Subir Malik, who was also a wrestler. In 2010, Sakshi won the Junior World Championship in the 59 kg category, a silver medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a gold at the 2014 Dave Schultz International Wrestling tournament, and a bronze at the 2015 Senior Asian Wrestling Championship in Doha. Interestingly, her brother Sachin is named after Sachin Tendulkar.

 

  • Sakshi’s daily routine includes intensive training, with about 500 sit-ups. Her favourite food is aloo ka parantha, a typical North Indian choice when it comes to comfort food. Unlike other young women her age, Sakshi is a homebody and loves spending quality time in the comfort of her home.