Rising Indian wrestling star Anshu Malik was the talk of the town after she bagged a silver medal in the 57kg category at the Individual World Cup in Belgrade. Her commendable achievement, in a way, was hugely significant for her father, an ex-wrestler himself.
Dharamveer Malik couldn't hold back his tears as he rejoiced at his daughter's podium finish at the marquee event.
Back in the 1990s, Malik Senior was a regular in the Indian team at the junior level and regularly competed in international wrestling competitions. His biggest achievement as a wrestler was to participate at the Cadet World Championship of 1995, where he returned without a podium finish. Though a knee-injury five years later ended his promising career, he has lived one of his dreams through his daughter this week.
Elated after Anshu's achievement at the World Cup, Malik Senior said that his daughter fulfilled his dreams with an international medal, something that he could never achieve.
“My daughter has fulfilled my dream of winning an international medal,” an emotional Dharamveer told The Indian Express.
“I had to quit wrestling because of the knee injury and never won an international medal. Though my elder brother Pawan Kumar won the gold medal at the SAFF Games, to see Anshu win a medal at a World Cup surpasses all our achievements and that’s what every parent hopes for.”
Dharamveer, however, also revealed that he least expected Anshu to excel in wrestling as she was inclined towards academics in her childhood. His hopes, instead, had rested on his son Shubham. Incidentally, Anshu started to develop a keen interest in the sport after accompanying Shubham to a training session.
“She would spend a lot of time studying, so we came up with a plan to have shorter training sessions for her,” her coach Jagdish Sheoran said. “Wrestling is in her blood, and I could see that she was learning the moves pretty quickly.”
Anshu is a determined spirit and started to show her spark within the first four years of her career. She bagged a silver at the Asian Junior Wrestling Championships in 2016. She also added a bronze medal to her tally in the same year at the World Cadet event.
Looking at the early success earned by Anshu, her father, left his job at the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and relocated to Lucknow or Sonepat, wherever Anshu was training, to provide emotional support.
“We’d stay at rented accommodations and I’d cook for her to make sure she focuses only on her wrestling,” he recalled.
The 19-year-old Anshu’s breakthrough came in 2017 when she won gold at the World Cadet Championships in Athens.
“That win changed her as a wrestler,” Sheoran adds. “She changed mentally too, and she started to spend more time in training, devoting over six hours to training daily.”
And that shift in focus is now starting to pay off for the young Indian wrestler.