Wrestler Sakshi Malik has switched back to her attacking style of play. She is extremely confident of doing well at the World Championships in Kazakhstan and her first priority for now is to qualify for the Olympics.
In an interview with The Sunday Guardian during an event here, Sakshi talks about her game plan, training and why she does not endorse the idea of Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) proposal to withdraw from the 2022 CWG games.
Q. Do you think you should train overseas more due to below par standards of wrestling in India?
A. We do that as well. I did my training in Spain and Italy. Some very good countries participated. We don’t have many partners here but we frequently go overseas for partners.
Q. How confident are you for the World Championships in Kazakhstan?
A. I am very confident for the World Championships and we prepare throughout the year for competitions like these. My focus right now is this championship because it’s the first qualification round. Olympics will be a year away after this. I will start preparing for the Olympics after this tournament.
Q. Your attacking style of play changed after clinching bronze at Rio Olympics. You have made statements that you ended up on the losing side because of your defensive approach…
A. My game has always been attacking. I was getting defensive after scoring points which benefited the opponents. But I am not committing the same mistake again. I will stick to my attacking style of play and won’t repeat the mistakes. Attacking is always a positive approach. He/she can gain points at any point of time. Player whose approach is defensive can only defend. So, I am working towards attacking the opponent for the entire six minutes.
Q. Do you think situation in Wrestling is much better now?
A. It definitely has improved and should improve more. When I started, I remember getting 3000 rupees a month and 100 rupees per day for juice and food. It looked like a big amount back then. I think there is lot more to be done. Wrestlers should be getting more so that they are able to buy their own kit, shoes and costumes. It will give them a lot of motivation.
Q. Have you witnessed any change after you became the first female wrestler from India to win a medal at the Olympics?
A. When I started wrestling, there were very few girls. Things have changed and now there are so many of them that we have to put them in different slots. Juniors and seniors have different slots assigned to them. I feel extremely proud that girls are taking up wrestling and parents now see this as a career option. I am happy to motivate them.
Q. We have lost games by narrow margins. Do you think we have progressed slowly than other countries?
A. I don’t think so. Earlier, we were the ones to approach other countries and now they ask the Federation and say they want to come here (in India). They also ask them to send wrestlers to their country. So, we have improved a lot and gone a notch higher in this aspect.
Q. Has your game ever changed if you are facing an Indian opponent?
A. My game always remains the same. We have worked for so many years, honing our skills.
Q. Tell us about your preparations for Olympics…
A. First and foremost my target is to qualify for the Olympics. If that happens then we will put forth a plan and, perhaps, go to some other country where the weather is good and we have partners.
Q. Your take on IOC’s proposal to pull out of 2022 CWG…
A. We have a contingent and if a decision is made to drop shooting, it will affect the entire country because our country gets a lot of medal through shooting. Let’s not think of boycotting CWG, but pray that shooting is included.