From being an underdog to winning India it’s elusive medal at Rio, Sakshi acknowledged her life will change forever. “I know my life has changed now. I’m not able to see it now but I think after I return home it will be different life altogether.
Din raat ka change hone wala hai (The difference will be like between day and night),” she said. Rohtak-to-Rio journey took 12 years of struggle and hardship for Sakshi who was often overshadowed by the Phogat sisters. “It felt strange. Like in the camp for Bulgaria and Spain, there were all Phogats and I was the only Malik in between them. But I did not mind… It was Geeta didi who showed us the way in 2012,” she says about Geeta Phogat’s path-breaking Olympic qualification in London 2012.
“Geeta didi won medals for India and I got inspired and gradually I started winning,” she said. Sakshi’s first international success came when she won a bronze at the 2010 Junior World Championships in the 59kg category. Four years later, Sakshi won a gold at the Dave Schultz International Wrestling Tournament in 60kg and the biggest moment of her career came at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 where she won a silver medal.
“When I had returned home after winning the Commonwealth Games medal, everyone was after me and I could not sleep well. “Every time I fell sleep, my brother or mother would tell me ‘get up, you’ve to give interviews, people are waiting’. But I enjoy it, not everyone get a chance of this type,” she admits. Two months later, Sakshi crashed out in the World Wrestling Championships quarterfinals in Tashkent finishing a poor eighth. But she again came into reckoning by winning a bronze at the Asian Championships in Doha 2015. It was only in May this year that Sakshi qualified for the Rio Olympics after making the final of the Olympic Qualifiers in Istanbul where she lost the final to Russian Valeria Koblova. It was only after she made the cut Sakshi was included in the Target Olympic Podium scheme as she did some training in Bulgaria and Spain.
A daily routine in Sakshi’s life would be 500 sit-ups and intensive training but at the moment the training can stop and she said she would love to gorge on her favourite aloo parantha and kadhi chawal. “It feels like I’ve not eaten aloo parantha, kadhi chawal for ages now. I was mostly on a liquid, carb-free diet. Now I can relax,” she said.
Sakshi is not into movies or chilling out with friends. For her, it’s about sleep and spend some quiet time at home, maybe watching TV. “I just want to lead a peaceful life. I don’t like to travel around or going out for movies. I want a job where I can be at peace. I’ve achieved all this because of my struggle for 12 years. Peace is all what I need, that’s enjoyment for me.” But, this is just the beginning for Sakshi. “I am looking forward to Tokyo 2020.” Ask her whom she would first give the prized medal after she lands in New Delhi, and Sakshi is no high-flying in her reply: “This medal is for everyone in my country. This medal belongs to you, whoever it is… I will say, see ‘I’ve made it’.” PTI
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