From self-doubt, lack of confidence to CWG gold, Sakshi Malik turns a corner
If she had not topped the wrestling trials for the Commonwealth Games, Olympic medallist could not have overcome the crisis of confidence she was experiencing over the last two years. She also strongly thought about retirement.
The demons in her mind were understandable as she was losing to her juniors in the domestic circuit and had not done much of notice since getting that historic bronze in Rio Olympics six years ago.
The 29-year-old somehow managed to beat the much younger Sonam Malik in her fifth attempt to top the 62kg trials and make the India squad for the Birmingham Games.
That was the moment when Sakshi started to get her confidence back and also paved the way for a gold medal-winning performance here on Friday. Making handwritten notes of her thoughts after sessions with psychologists also helped immensely.
“My confidence was down for a while. My coaches told me I was the fittest among seniors and juniors and had all the power. I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Whether it was bad luck. I won the trials (in May) and from then I started to feel confident about my game,” said Sakshi after bouncing back from 0-4 to pin Canada’s And Godinez Gonzalez.
She called the gold medal finish her biggest result since the Rio Games.
“I had not won gold in CWG (she had won silver and bronze earlier). I wanted to fight till the end to get that gold. Even when I was 0-4 down, it did not bother me. I had won bouts with seconds left in the Olympics, here I had three minutes left,” she said referring to her double leg move that settled the contest.
“I have been wrestling for 18 years, I can do this in my sleep as well. I am so used to it that it comes subconsciously to me.”
With the medal in the bag, Sakshi has managed to turn it around but in February when Jitender Yadav joined as the women’s national coach, she was down in the dumps.
Yadav said self-doubt had crept into Sakshis mind and she pinned all her hopes on the trials.
“She surely had a crisis of confidence. It was psychological and nothing else. She thought she was weak and that brought her confidence down. She was not performing even in nationals so there was surely a big crisis. There was also fear of failure.”
Yadav felt she needed to change her training regime.
“She used to train with heavyweight partners, I switched it to lightweight partners to help her movement. She is the most powerful among the lot and most disciplined. Before the trials she said if I don’t get selected I will pack my bags and go home. It was my responsibility to get her out of that zone. I told her you will not go back, you will rather get gold for India.”
She did keep the promise.
(With Agency inputs)