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Indian female wrestler Sakshi Malik has secured Indias first medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo: TwitterIndian female wrestler Sakshi Malik has secured Indias first medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo: Twitter

Sakshi Malik washes India’s soul

(Rio de Janeiro, brpress) - Brazilian Wrestling Master Champion in 2015 Marcos de Sousa stresses “how important, inspiring and empowering are women Olympic victories, such as Malik’s, to girls all over the world”.

(Rio de Janeiro, brpress) – Women rules in Rio 2016, as these Games are, above all matters, about inclusion. In this context, gender is a big issue rather in sport rather in society. Traditionally male sports, such as football and wresting, are being successful among women who are defying all stablished concepts and prejudices and winning if not medals the respect and admiration they deserve. Like the Brazilian judoka Rafaela da Silva, who has won the first golden medal for Brazil in Rio, this is the case of Indian female wrestler Sakshi Malik, who has secured India’s first medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, ushering in a sense of relief across the country.  She is also the first Indian female wrestler to win an Olympic medal. 

“It’s (the victory) the result of 12 years of wrestling day and night. I never gave up in the bout and gave it my maximum,” Malik told Indian television news channels after winning the bronze medal. The former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag tweeted: “#SakshiMalik is a reminder of what can happen if you don’t kill a girl child. When things get tough its our girls who get going & save our pride”. Born in northern conservative Haryana state, adjoining New Delhi, where women were only recently allowed to wrestle, Malik is India’s fourth female athlete to climb the Olympic victory podium. 

After her victory Malik jogged around the wrestling arena, carrying the Indian flag before collapsing on the mat as true realisation of her feat sank in. The 23-year-old Indian defeated Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova in a dramatic finish in the 58kg freestyle wrestling category, making a comeback in the final seconds to win 8-5. While in India Malik’s bronze medal was a national commotion, in Brazil former volleyball star Ana Moser congratulated the Indian wrestler as well as all other women athletes who are breaking the barriers of gender and economic deprivation throughout sports. “Sport is a metaphor of life. The personal history of many female Olympic athlete gives us a lot to think”, she said. “Miss Malik’s victory is very meaningful for women in India and all other countries where women are still discriminated”. 

Empowering women through sports 

Ana Moser refers to Tunisia, the country’s native of 27-year-old wrestler Marwa Amri who was the first African – among women and men – to win a medal in wrestling. Amri also won the bronze medal in the under-58 kg women’s wrestling. She defeated Yuliya Ratkevich, of Azerbaijan, in the repechage rounds late this Wednesday (August 17th) afternoon. It was the second medal for Tunisia in these Olympics. The first one, also a bronze, was won by Ines Boubakri in women’s fencing. Amri was in repechage after losing a round-of-16 match to Japan’s Kaori Icho, who would move on to win gold. Russia’s Valeriia Koblova Zholobova took silver, followed by India’s Sakshi Malik, who won the second repechage, taking the bronze medal. 

More women

In the opinion of Brazilian wrestler, director of Guarulhos Wrestling Association, in São Paulo state, and Brazilian Wrestling Master Champion in 2015 Marcos Timóteo Rodrigues de Sousa, “women are increasingly looking for wresting as a sport very much due to the growing highlights of female participation in the Olympics – which have increased more than men’s since the Athens Games, in 2004”. As the coach of two special wresting courses being held at Sesc (Serviço Social do Comérico) units in São José dos Campos and Presidente Prudente, in São Paulo state, during the last week of August, he stresses “how important, inspiring and empowering are the Olympic victories, such as Malik’s and Amri’s, to girls all over the world”.  

India’s remaining hopes for a medal are badminton player P V Sindhu, scheduled to play the women’s semifinals later on Thursday, and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, a London Olympics bronze medalist, whose bout is on the last day of the Games.