Didn’t want to wait for four more years to do something exceptional: Sakshi Malik

The loudest applause of the day came when the Olympic bronze medal glistened in Sakshi Malik’s hands. The 23-year-old wrestler from Haryana took on a new role on Wednesday.

While addressing the corporate staff at the JSW Centre in Bandra-Kurla Complex, after being felicitated for her Rio success, she proved that she could tackle her excited audience and keep them spellbound.

“I did not want to wait for four more years to do something exceptional at the Olympic Games. It was up to me to deliver after 12 years of preparation. No one else could do it for me,” said Ms. Malik, when asked about her thoughts while trailing 0–5 in the 58 kg freestyle bout, driving home the importance of seizing every opportunity.

Winning eight points in a row at the Carioca Arena, Ms. Malik finished the round 8-5 against Krygyzstan’s Aisulu Tynybekova. Ms. Malik’s snarls on the mat were replaced by smiles on the victory podium. Hands raised in triumph folded into a namaste to receive the medal, and her head, high with pride for the victory lap, was now bowed.

One of the 12 Olympians selected for training by JSW Sports, Ms. Malik was felicitated in Mumbai for her Olympic win. The candid discussion on the athlete’s career that followed allowed the excited corporates in attendance to extract several lessons for their own growth.

Asked about the change in demeanour, she said, “I am a calm, quiet person. I never get into fights; I have never slapped anyone in anger. Aggression is reserved for those minutes on the mat.”

Ms. Malik grew up in Rohtak, grappling with boys of similar weight categories in the absence of local women wrestlers strong enough to test her till her graduation to the national camp. Questioned about the difficulties faced in Haryana by a girl taking up any sport, let alone wrestling, the Olympian gave credit to her parents, saying, “The support from my family has taken me so far. They were ready to back me in whatever I did, in wrestling or anything else.”
When asked about public response to her Olympic exploits, Ms. Malik said, “Parents seek my blessing for their children back home. How can blessing make a difference to children’s lives? It would be better if I could train the young ones in wrestling,”

An example of an outlier who changed society’s perceptions, the Olympian’s discussion could inspire mentors and managers across industries to allow employees to explore strengths, even when contrary to existing corporate patterns, and nurture them.

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