Sakshi Malik finds a lease of life with fresh trials

The bronze medallist from Rio 2016 will have an opportunity to make the Indian team for the Olympic qualifiers at the national trials on February 26.

By Olympic Channel Writer ·

Indian wrestling icon Sakshi Malik has been granted another chance to have a crack at her Olympic dream.

This after the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announced that they will hold fresh trials next week in two weight categories ahead of the Asian Olympic qualifiers. 

The bronze medallist from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Sakshi Malik, had failed to make the Indian team in the 62kg category -- an Olympic weight division -- following her loss to one’s India’s rising stars Sonam Malik at the national trials in January. 

However, with Sonam and Kiran (76kg) failing to win medals at the ongoing Asian Wrestling Championships, the WFI stated that they will go for fresh trials on Wednesday to ensure the best wrestlers travels for the qualifiers.

“We have made a decision. The trials will be held in 62kg and 76kg on February 26 in Lucknow for women. These are the only categories which could not win any medal. We have also decided to hold fresh trials for 60kg category in Greco Roman style,” WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar said on the sidelines of the New Delhi event.

Pooja Dhanda will have to wait

The announcement also means Indian wrestler Pooja Dhanda’s dream of making it to the 2020 Olympics has been dealt a serious blow with the national federation sticking to Anshu Malik in the 57kg category.

Anshu Malik beat Pooja Dhanda at the national trials to make the Indian wrestling squad for the Asian meet and managed a bronze medal following her tense 4-1 win over Uzbekistan’s Sevara Eshmuratova.

The Olympic qualifiers will be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from March 27-29. It was earlier scheduled to be held in Xian but the outbreak of the coronavirus has forced the United World Wrestling (UWW), the international governing body of the sport, to move it outside China.

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UWW, however, has guaranteed that Chinese wrestlers will be granted the required permissions to participate in the Olympic qualifiers. 

Sakshi Malik so far

Though she was unable to make the cut in the Olympic weight category, Sakhi Malik was involved in the Asian Championships, as the grappler from Rohtak won a silver medal in the 65kg category, a non-Olympic division. 

Up against Japan’s Naomi Ruike in the final, the Indian wrestler was at their defensive best, but couldn’t muster enough on the attack, losing the bout 1-2.

Sakshi Malik has often struggled to replicate her Rio 2016 performance in the past few years, largely relying on her defensive abilities to turn the bout in the dying moments. 

However, the tactic has barely helped her as titles at major competitions have dried up for the only Indian wrestler to win an Olympic medal in the women’s category. 

She will have to improve her game significantly if she hopes to make the cut for the 2020 Olympics.