Sakshi Malik got India their first medal at Rio when she won her 58kg freestyle bout against A Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan.
The bronze medal came in the repechage event after she had earlier been eliminated in the quarters.
What a match that was !!! Thrilling ! Not at all for the faint hearted. No less than a bollywood movie. The hero rose, rose so tall that each passing second had a story to tell.
Sakshi Malik, a Jat girl from Rohtak in Haryana - was determined to make Rio 2016 a place a remember. She had faced two difficult opponents that day and had faced tears with an equal share of agony and happiness.
Coming to the quarter-finals of the 58 kg freestyle event; Valeria Koblova (Russian) was a mountain she could not push and lost the match.
However, Repechage is a format (which is applicable in Rio too) which offers the defeated participants with a chance to come back even though they'd have lost in the early stages.
In repechage, every wrestler who has been defeated by the two eventual finalists during the knockouts, participates in these rounds for two bronze medals, one for each finalist's best rival.
The competitors, who lost to the eventual finalists, form two separate pools, and they fight it out for the bronze medals. The loser from the first round plays the loser from the second round, and the winner of this faces the loser of the next round. In this manner, there emerges a winner of each repechage bracket, and they are awarded bronze medals.
In her first match in Repechage, Sakshi Malik trounced Mangolia's Orkhon Purevdorg 12-3 in the repechage round to advance to the bronze medal play-off.
That was just her fourth match of the day. Her energy had drained, but the will to win a medal for her country was on a high. He wanted to see her intense training of twelve (12) years give her results, and one of the best-eight was not enough for her.
And she fought...
The do-or-die bout started on a bad note.
- Sakshi quickly fell behind 0-5 with the opponent taking control of the bout.
- Shecould open the scoring only in the second period and got two points after throwing her rival down and out of the mat. She then managed to earn two points again with a similar move to bring down the margin to 4-5.
- Thereafter, it was no looking back for the Indian girl and she took the opponent down to level the scores 5-5. But she did not stop there and gained three more points by pinning down the Kyrgyzstan wrestler in the dying moments of the match winning 8-5.
She had earlier stormed into the bronze medal play-off round with a dominating performance in her repechage round, where she thrashed Purevdorjiin Orkhon of Mongolia 12-3. Both the wrestlers matched each other in the first period and the scores were 2-2 at the break.
As Sakshi had reached the quarterfinals, she needed to fight only one repechage round as compared to the other two opponents of the Russian girl, whom she had beaten in the earlier two rounds - pre-quarters and qualification.
Koblova had beaten Luisa Niemesch of Germany in the qualification round before defeating Mongolia's Orkhon in the pre-quarterfinals.
Therefore, in the first repechage round, these two grapplers from Germany and Mongolia faced each other. And the winner of that bout (Mongolian girl) then took on Sakshi in repechage round 2 for a place in the bronze medal play-off.
We at TennisJunction salute Sakshi Malik.
Another girl doing India and Haryana proud - and by helping India open its account at Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
We pray for lots of success to Sakshi Malik and that she brings more laurels to the country.
Sakshi has joined the ranks of weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari (2000, Sydney), boxer MC Mary Kom (2012, London) and shuttler Saina Nehwal (2012, London) in the elite list of Indian women medallists - and the first woman wrestler from India to get a medal at olympics.
Author - Mohit Phogat