Home » Rio Olympics 2016 » Guts to glory: Snapshots of wrestler Sakshi Malik's way to Olympics bronze

Guts to glory: Snapshots of wrestler Sakshi Malik's way to Olympics bronze

Comeback queen Sakshi Malik has gone and done India proud. The colour of the medal didn\'t matter. For Sakshi - a dream that began 12 years ago - it was all about getting on a plane. On Wednesday, Malik prevailed against Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan 8-5 in the women\'s wrestling 58 kg bronze medal repechage match. That was her dream. She\'s gone and done one better. She\'s gone and won India their first medal at the Rio Olympics. Her grit and determination carried her through her bouts. "Women are not encouraged much to do sports," said Malik after her bronze medal winning bout. "I have shown that women should be encouraged."

Just 23 years of age, the girl from Mokhra village near Rohtak in Haryana, grabbed the glory at the Games. She is the only Indian woman wrestler to have ever won a medal at the Olympic games. In her bronze medal match, Sakshi was totally outplayed in the first round by her opponent, Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan. She ended up with a deficit of 0-5. Sakshi - who has previously shown a knack of staging strong comebacks - was a totally transformed grappler in the second round, taking eight consecutive points to send the substantial number of Indian fans in the stands into wild delirium.

At a young age, Malik\'s mother Sudesh Malik took her to a wrestling academy in nearby Rohtak. There, she mingled among the boys and trained with them and often faced the hardship of being a woman. It is there she learnt to persevere and to fight. It\'s there she learnt how to stay focused and despite all that was against her, keep on with the struggle and prevail.

She told ANI that there was absolutely no negativity during any of her bouts, even when she was down and seemingly out. She had one thing and only one thing on her mind and that was of winning a medal. In the round 2 of the repechage, she outclassed Mongolian wrestler Orkhon Purevdorj 12-3.

It was this confidence that carried her into the bronze medal bout. She started off with a 0-5 deficit but that didn\'t matter. "There was no negativity all day that there would be no medal. Till the end, there was ten seconds and I\'ve seen wrestling change in two-two seconds. So why not in ten seconds? I tried in ten seconds and I did it," Sakshi told ANI. "To those who told me I am a girl and I could not wrestle, I want to say please show some trust in girls, they can do everything".

Malik was slowly clawing back at the wrestler from Kyrgystan, steadily taking points. Going into the last 30 seconds, the score was 5-5. It was those last few seconds that proved crucial. When the whistle was blown, all Malik could do was stand in disbelief. A video referral of Tynybekova to no avail, Sakshi let out a scream to the multiple cheers of Indian fans at the stadium. She draped an Indian flag around her body, kissed the mat and was lifted by her coaching staff.

The Rio Games have produced a new Indian hero. Overnight, Malik has done what many other Indians dream about. She\'s gone and won a medal. That elusive medal is no more. It\'s with Malik, it\'s with India.

Photo curation by Vikas Kumar

Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.