In Indian wrestling, Sonam Malik has often flown under the radar. While the limelight has been firmly thrust on her much-celebrated compatriots like Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, the 18-year-old has slowly gone on to build her credibility with a handful of quality performances.
If her twin titles (2017, 2019) at the World Cadet Wrestling Championships weren’t enough proof of her calibre, the Indian youngster showed why she should be a force to reckon with after a top-notch performance at the National trials last month against Sakshi Malik.
Up against the bronze medallist from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the young Sonam Malik produced a fine show as she rallied from a four-point deficit to beat her decorated opponent in the 62kg category and seal her place in the Indian squad for the season-opening competitions.
Not the best start for Sonam Malik
Though her debut in the senior category, the Matteo Pellicone Memorial Ranking event, didn’t go as per plan, the Indian wrestler is eager to put the record straight at the upcoming Asian Wrestling Championships.
"Gold is my only aim for the Asian Championships and if I perform well in the Asian Qualifiers as well, I will eye for a medal at the 2020 Olympics, which is my ultimate dream,” she told Wrestling TV in a recent interview.
“It definitely made me more confident,” she said about her win over Sakshi Malik. “But then I failed to deliver in Rome. So it is back to square one.
“For now, I will only say that the win over Sakshi ji has given me an opportunity to represent India. Now, I want to establish myself in the Indian team. Asian Championships are crucial for me from that aspect,” she added.
Sonam Malik has no time for excuses
One of the things that troubled Sonam Malik in Rome apart from her inexperience was a troubling elbow. Though she admits that it had its say in her bout, the Indian wrestler was quick to assert that she cannot afford to hide behind excuses at the Asian Wrestling Championships 2020 in New Delhi.
“We are working on a certain plan as the national camp here (in Lucknow). I am working very hard on my weaknesses and concentrating especially on leg defence and aggressive attack.
“In Rome, I was eliminated in the first round after having suffered an elbow injury. I cannot afford that in New Delhi (at the Asian Wrestling Championships 2020),” she said.
With a hunger to prove herself and a desire to go the distance, Sonam Malik is eager to take the mat at the Asian Wrestling Championships 2020 that takes place from February 18-23. But how far can she and how well will she fare, only time can tell.