Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, who scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to clinch a medal in wrestling in the prestigious quadrennial event, on Wednesday admitted that her minor mistakes cost her spot in the finals of the freestyle 58kg event.
The 23-year-old suffered a major setback when she went down 2-9 against Russia’s Valeriia Koblova in the quarter-finals of the event at the Rio Olympics.
Sakshi, however, received another chance at a medal via repechage and made full use of the second life by outplaying Asian No. 1 Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyztan 8-5 in the bronze-medal match to end India’s 11-day long agonizing wait for a medal in the Summer Games.
Sakshi said that although she could have clinched silver, she is happy to finally fulfill her 12-year long dream to go to the Olympics and bring a medal for the country.
“My 12-year long dream has been fulfilled. I could have got silver medal as well. I could have reached the finals. I had a fight with Russia at the time of qualifying. So, I had a belief that if I would fight well, I could reach the finals. But I lost the bout because of my minor mistakes,” Sakshi told ANI.
Sakshi, who will be conferred with Khel Ratna Award for her stellar performance at international level, arrived to a grand welcome in the national capital from Rio de Janeiro. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who was scheduled to honour her at her village earlier, also felicitated her at Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district for bringing laurels to the nation.
With the win, Malik became only the fourth Indian woman athlete to win an Olympic medal after Karnam Malleshwari, Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal.
She has also become the fourth Indian wrestler to win a medal in Olympics after Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.