EXCLUSIVE: 'Olympics ke bad kabhi Indian flag ko...', Sakshi Malik on making comeback with CWG 2022 gold

In this chat with Commonwealth Games 2022 gold medal winner in wrestling Sakshi Malik, she reveals her self doubt before coming to Birmingham and how she overcame it to listen to national anthem on the podium which made her cry 

EXCLUSIVE: 'Olympics ke bad kabhi Indian flag ko...', Sakshi Malik on making comeback with CWG 2022 gold

Sakshi Malik was a bundle of emotions during the medal ceremony after she won the gold medal in the women's freestyle 62kg category on Friday (August 5). A teary-eyed Malik sang the national anthem, making it one of the finest moments for the Indian team at the Commonwealth Games 2022. This was a hard-earned win and listening to the national anthem at such a big stage was a long-cherished dream of hers. This gold is her second best medal ever after Rio Olympics bronze. Sinceher Rio win, Sakshi's graph has only gone down. She won a bronze in CWG 2018 at Gold Coast in between but apart from that, there is nothing really to show. 

The drought of medals in big ticket events made her critics call the Rio bronze a fluke. She had lots to prove but in the last year or so, she had a bigger challenge to overcome - her self doubt. Sakshi kept on losing trials after trials to junior wrestlers and that led to her even thinking about the retirement. The quest for a CWG gold could have ended had she not won the CWG trials in March. She was facing Sonam Malik in the 62 kg trials and she was not the favourite to win this contest as Sakshi had lost to the wrestler many a times before. But on that day, she had luck riding on her side. She managed to come out victorious. The win gave birth to a new Sakshi Malik, who was ready to fight again. That win paved the way for the gold in Birmingham as she got her confidence back and began to hope, want a medal again.   

"I was having a tough time as I was losing in India constantly. I could not understand what I was doing wrong but I knew I was doing things right. My motivation was low. I didn't quit. I am happy I won the gold for my country," said Sakshi to Zee News English. 

"Trails was a big obstacle for me as I had lost many a times against junior wrestlers. When I won in trials, it gave me a huge confidence," she added.

The 29-year-old athlete from Rohtak knew this was last chance to win a gold and hear the national anthem as wrestling may not be included in the next CWG. And she made sure more hard work was put in. "When I left India, the only medal I wanted was the gold. I knew this was the last chance as I did not know whether there will be wrestling in the next Commonwealth Games 2022," she said.

Sakshi has now got the tag of a 'comeback queen' as she has the habit of pulling off come-from-behind win in big matches. Like in Rio Olympics, she made a strong comeback after being 0-4 down in the final vs Canada's Ana Gonzalez. When asked how does she about this tag, she admits it is fitting on her as she has played like that in many such wins. 

"This happens because I take my time to understand the opponent, try to assess what they are planning. I do not panic at the start and I saw how the opponent is planning. I don't lose heart till the end," she said. 

When the flag went up during her medal ceremony, Sakshi could not hold back her tears. The emotions rolled out as her dream was becoming a reality finally, something which looked an impossible thing to do a few months back. 

"This is every athlete's dream that national anthem is played when they play. This is the first time I have stood on the podium and national anthem has been played.Olympics ke baad kabhi flag hath mein lene ka mauka hi nahi mila. It was wonderful to hold the national flag, sing the anthem," she said.

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