I visualise what I really want: Sakshi Malik

Abha Gupta. Dated: 8/5/2019 4:41:38 PM

Sakshi Malik, who recently qualified for the World Wrestling Championships 2019, and has signed a partnership with ASICS, talks about how mental and physical fitness go hand-in-hand

Sakshi Malik walks into the ASICS store at the Mall of India in Noida, carrying herself with her trademark quiet-but-smiling no-nonsense sensibility. The brand has just signed on the 26-year-old, India’s first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal (and only the fourth Indian female Olympic medallist) as one of their eight athletes.

Fresh off her qualification for the World Wrestling Championships 2019, which will be held in Kazakhstan in September, Malik talks about how she keeps her mental fitness on track with the physical, and what life is like living in a family of wrestlers.

Edited excerpts:

Being a wrestler isn’t considered a usual professional choice. When did you know you wanted to be one?
I was always interested in sport; even in my school days, I’d participate in whatever sports activity was being arranged. I used to get excited when we’d hear the names of sportspersons winning something. Olympic medal winners, especially.

But once, when I was about 12, I went over to a stadium near my house which had an athletics meet, with gymnastics and wrestling events, going on. I didn’t even know it was called wrestling then, but I was so drawn to it! I told my parents immediately that this is what I wanted to do. And I’ve never looked back.

You’re one of India’s few women sport icons right now. What is the sort of message you want to give girls about fitness?
First of all, regardless of whether or not you’re a sportsperson, you need to be fit. When I started out in sport, we didn’t have too many girls who’d take it on as a career. After my win in the Olympics, and other medals too, so many girls have started getting into sport, and are also thinking more about staying fit. It makes them ready to face any problem. Fitness is necessary for everyone.

It’s not new that we deal with body image issues. Women are too thin, too fat, too tall, too muscular — anything can be a problem. Women are also commonly asked to avoid weight training because they might bulk up and look ‘masculine’. Have you ever encountered such issues when you started out?
No, this has never happened with me. But it’s so wrong to assume that lean women with perfect figures, who don’t do any physical activity or aren’t into some sport, have no health issues in their lives. There are so many of us wrestler girls, many heavyweight wrestler girls too — they don’t have any such [misplaced societal body image issues]. Some of them are married and happy too. We are doing such great work, bringing back medals for the country — everything else is irrelevant.


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