Showing extraordinary fighting spirit, woman wrestler Sakshi Malik ended India’s frustrating medal drought with a dramatic bronze-winning effort on day 12 of the Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The entire country is talking about her, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is proud of her. He congratulated her on Twitter saying that the whole country is rejoicing. In another tweet, Modi wrote, “On this very auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan, Sakshi Malik, a daughter of India, wins a Bronze & makes all of us very proud.”
Sakshi fought five bruising battles in the 58kg category against equally determined opponents in a single day before securing the podium place. She had lost her quarterfinal bout but got a fresh lease of life when her Russian conqueror reached the final, allowing the Indian to compete in the repechage round.
The 23-year-old grappler from Haryana climbed the medal rostrum with a spectacular come-from-behind 8-5 win over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan after trailing 0-5 in the first period. She jumped on the mat with ear-to-ear smile before being hoisted by her coach Kuldeep Singh with the Indian tri-colour draped around her.
It was the fifth bronze in wrestling for India in its long Olympic history stretching back to 1952 Helsinki Games when Kashaba Jadhav became its first individual medallist. She is also the fourth female Olympic medallist from India, joining the ranks of weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari (2000, Sydney), boxer MC Mary Kom (2012, London) and shuttler Saina Nehwal (2012, London).
Sakshi also became the first female grappler from India to climb the podium in the quadrennial sports spectacle – the other four medals being won by men with two of those claimed by Sushil Kumar in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London.