Dreams Maketh A Woman

After a win at the Rio Olympics, Sakshi Malik has her dreams set on Tokyo Olympics

BY NAMITA GUPTA

She’s a sensation in the wrestling ring. Sakshi Malik made India proud by bagging a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was the first woman wrestler from the country to secure a podium finish. No highs or lows, or ups and downs stopped her from reaching her goals. Just one step short of the Summer Olympics 2020 in Tokyo, Sakshi seems to be fitter and stronger than ever before, thanks to the confidence, she’s gained from her last victory. Endorsing the partnership of Herbalife Nutrition with the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) as it’s sports nutrition partner, the young IIS wrestler spoke to us about her journey after Rio Olympics and her dreams for Tokyo Olympics.

How’re you preparing now for what lies ahead?

We prepare all year round and before any competition, we all really focus hard and put in our best to win medals, not only for us, but for our country. I still have to clear one qualifying tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I’m really trying my best to clear that. It will be sometime in May in Bulgaria. We have the names of the girls who have cleared the qualifying tournament, so I’m watching their videos and preparing myself. But otherwise, even on regular days, I train for about three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening. In between I just get time to relax a bit and catch up on sleep that helps in body recovery. For increasing focus, I also do a little bit of yoga sometimes in the morning.

What is your nutrition intake like? Do you follow a schedule?

Yes, nutrition is extremely important. Earlier when I had started, we didn’t have much information on its importance. We would just eat good food and were told to have lots of milk, ghee etc and sleep for recovery. But that’s not enough. We need holistic nutrition. We have a sports nutritionist with us when we go on our camps. When we go for our camps in Lucknow, our sports nutritionist helps us plan our daily intake, with what to eat before our practice and after that. They do complete body check up and tell us what we lack and what we need to have. When we have time before the competition, we take regular food, and don’t worry so much on what we’re eating. We eat ghee and some fatty foods also. But when the competition is nearing, we reduce our diet significantly as we have to reduce our weight drastically. We eat bananas before the training, eggs after the training, and whatever diet is recommended, we strictly follow that. The diet changes as the per the schedules of the competition dates and our training modules.

How has the government’s attitude changed in the recent past and how much is it helping sports stars like you?

When I started it was challenging, but over the years the government is also realising that sports nutrition is equally important alongside good training. Thankfully things have improved over the years.

Also, being a woman wrestler, it would have been tough initially. How have things changed over the years?

A lot of avenues have opened up for girls. Mindsets have changed. People used to think it’s not a sport for girls, and would hesitate to send their kids for such sports, as they were worried they would get physical injuries and break their body parts. They see me on television, and when they come and see me in real life, they tell me – you look like a normal girl and I tell them – why would I look any different. That thought has changed now, that girls who do wrestling are very different. Also, it’s good to partner with IIS as it will benefit a lot of kids, who want to get into this field and help them improve their performance.

Would you like to share any tips for budding wrestlers?

If you decide to take up any sport, you must do it seriously and with complete dedication and passion and give it your all. If you put in your best efforts you can definitely achieve your dreams. And in today’s times, things are easier than in our days as there is more awareness and importance given to sports and hopefully it will only grow further.