IT WAS BACK IN 2016 when Sakshi Malik made history at the Rio Olympics by becoming the first Indian Woman to win an Olympic medal in wrestling.
The 25-year-old, who has been on a roll ever since is currently busy with the third season of Pro Wrestling League.
A mainstay in the league since its inception, Sakshi holds PWL in high regard.
Sakshi Malik: I have a lot of hope about PWL. It’s in the third season and I’ve competed in all three of it. I benefited a lot from it actually. Like in the first season, I got the experience of fighting world champions and training with Olympians in my team. And I learned a lot before I won the Olympic medal. A lot of World champions and Olympians come for the League and that too in our home ground, so it’s a great benefit for the wrestlers here.
PWL has been groundbreaking in its own right as Sakshi mentioned. It has provided a platform for the wrestlers in India. But there is one change that she wants to make in the League.
Sakshi Malik: I would like to add more teams so that more wrestlers can get chance. As you can see, we are progressing well since we are getting a platform. So if more wrestlers get the chance, they can also gain experience and Indian wrestling will benefit.
In the second season of the league, Sakshi wrestled for the Delhi Sultans. This time around, she will represent Mumbai Maharathi.
Sakshi Malik: There are some differences. The wrestlers are different, the coaches are different. And last time, my team could not win so this time, we will do our best to get the trophy.
Another striking difference for the third season is the weight category. Sakshi had won the Olympic medal while wrestling at 58KG. Recently, she moved up to 62KG which she notes as her natural weight.
Sakshi Malik: I walk around at 62 or 63 KGS. Before, when I used to wrestle at 58, I needed to cut my weight for competing. But now since I’m competing in 62, I have a good diet and concentrate on my game without any need of cutting the weight.
A major attraction of the third was a potential showdown between Sakshi Malik and Geeta Phogat.
However, a last-minute injury forced Geeta to pull out from the match. She was subsequently replaced by Reshma Mane who fell prey to the dominance of Sakshi. Despite the missed opportunity of the huge match-up with Geeta, Sakshi hopes that her companion gets back into the mat at the earliest.
Sakshi Malik: Our game is in such a way that we could get injured at any point. At training or during the match, we can get injured. So she got injured in the last minute and they found a replacement for her. Hopefully, she (Geeta Phogat) will recover fast and return to the competition.
Almost halfway through the league, the Mumbai Maharathi has a lot to catch up to do if they are to challenge for the title. But above the medals and titles, there is something else that makes Sakshi proud: inspiring others.
Sakshi Malik: It was a struggle back in the school days and all. I had to manage the studies, tuition along with training. I used to go at 4 am in the morning for training and then go to school. So when I won the medal, people got motivated as they realized that despite the entire struggle, you can reach on top on the day. They started bringing their children for training and I felt so proud of the same.
Once PWL is wrapped up, Sakshi will be shifting her focus to the Commonwealth Games where she will be looking to script another inspiring story.
Pro Wrestling League Season 3 will be telecast live and exclusively on SONY ESPN, SONY ESPN HD and SONY WAH from 6:50 pm onwards.