Sakshi Malik, a previously unknown wrestler from the Rohtak district of Haryana, sprung to popularity overnight as she beat Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan 8-5 in a bronze medal match in the 58 kg category. Notably, she came back from being 5-0 down to register the win. In doing so, Sakshi has now become the fourth Indian woman to win a medal at the Summer Olympics and the first to do so at the Rio 2016 Olympics. She gave India its fifth bronze in wrestling since 1952 Helsinki Games.
An overwhelmed Malik was quoted as saying, “Meri 12 saal ki tapasya rang layi (It’s the result of my 12 years’ fight for day and night). Geeta didi, my senior had qualified for the first time in London. I never thought I would become the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal in wrestling. I hope the remaining wrestlers will also do well”
Coming from a state with one of the worst sex ratios across the world, Sakshi Malik has truly registered a tight slap across the face of the sexism prevalent in Haryana. Haryana government has already announced a prize of Rs. 2.5 crore and a government job for the 23 year old’s heroics and more such announcements are expected to follow shortly. Notably, Malik’s prize money has surpassed the prize money that was given to Abhinav Bindra when he brought home a gold medal in Beijing 2008, further reiterating how desperate the nation had become for a medal at Rio 2016.