Sakshi Malik deserves everything but don’t forget her coaches

Sakshi Coach Academy

On 18th August 2016, Haryana woman wrestler ended India’s painful wait for a medal at the Rio Olympic Games. Till then, India’s largest Olympic contingent ever, flattered to deceive in Brazil. Sakshi captured the bronze medal (through Repechage) in the 58-kg category of Women’s Freestyle .

Sakshi Malik- Winner of Wrestling Bronze at Rio

Sakshi Malik scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only fourth female athlete from the country to climb to the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world.

Her teary-eyed father was left speechless when he saw his daughter win the match on his television, sitting at his home in Rohtak.

She took up wrestling when she was just 11-years-old. Coach Ishwar Singh Dahiya still remembers the day when a young Sakshi accompanied her mother to the Sir Chotu Ram Stadium Wrestling Academy in Rohtak.

She had to train with the boys and fight them in the akhara, in a region where the sport was ‘not for girls’.

Coach Ishwar Singh Dahiya also remembers the protests from locals when he took Sakshi under his wing. Today, she has made the entire village proud.

After she won the bronze, Haryana government has promised a bumper bonus of Rs 2 Crore and land to her. Railways and National Olympic body also announced cash reward of Rs 50 lakhs and Rs 20 lakhs respectively. Even AAP honcho and Delhi CM Kejriwal, who did nothing for Delhi Sports, would not miss the TRP opportunity, announcing Rs 1 Cr for Sakshi.

Sakshi deserves everything and more. But more than anyone else, she herself will say that her coaches, Ishwar Singh Dahia and Mandeep Singh, as well as the academy, where she along with hundred others train, deserve to be recognised too. She and other women wrestlers like Phogat sisters are products of the Sir Chhotu Ram Stadium Wrestling Academy in Rohtak that suffers from torn wrestling mats, no air conditioning, dirty toilets and poor boarding facilities. Despite this, this academy has produced more than 30  women wrestlers who have represented India and won awards, currently led by Mandeep Singh, a former student to Dahia.

Sakshi after winning Bronze at Rio in Wrestling

Sakshi after winning Bronze at Rio in Wrestling

Another budding wrestler Pinki Malik mentioned. “We train without proper water and washroom facilities here and Haryana Sports department should look into this. Sakshi didi has won the Olympic medal and getting proper facilities is the biggest thing we ask from the state government for her achievement.” Just a fraction of the amount spent of Football and Hockey, forget the billion-dollar Cricket extravaganza, on wrestling academies like these could help produce dozens of Medals at Asian and Olympic levels.

Would Modi, Haryana Government, Indian Sports Authorities and Kejriwal listen?