Sakshi, who won a bronze medal (58 kg) at the Rio Olympics in 2016, wants to change the colour of her medal if she manages to board the flight to Tokyo later this year. She will be competing in the 62 kg category.
The 27-year-old Sakshi, who won a gold medal at the South Asian Games held in Nepal in December last year, spoke with Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
Congratulations on winning a gold medal at the South Asian Games recently. What was the experience like?
Thank you for your wishes. The experience at SAG was good, whether it is a small competition or big, there is always something to learn, hence the experience was really good.
How bright would you say are the chances of you qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics?
I have been training and working hard for Tokyo 2020, there are still qualification rounds left. I could not qualify in the world qualifications round and I’m working hard and learning from the mistakes. I’m aiming to qualify at the Asian qualifications and then prepare for Tokyo 2020 with a hope to change the colour of the medal this year.
How is the preparation going for the Tokyo Olympics?
I’m working very hard for Tokyo 2020, there is very little time left for the Olympics and I have been working on everything from the minutest details to the technical requirements. Wrestling is a sport where one needs to work on everything like speed, stamina, endurance, technique, power, and I’m giving my 100%. I now know who my opponents will be in Tokyo, so I’m preparing myself according to that.
Vinesh Phogat missed out on a medal in Rio due to an unfortunate injury. Do you think she can come back with a medal this time?
Yes, it was very unfortunate for her in Rio. She was a very good medal prospect in 2016, but due to her injury that didn’t happen. But this time she will definitely get a medal, and we all will try to make a record of getting medals for our country in wrestling.
Yogeshwar is a senior wrestler. He won an Olympic medal at the London Games. He retired to groom Bajrang. Do you think two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar should also maybe consider a similar future soon?
Yogeshwar has won a medal at the Olympics, Sushil has won twice at the Olympics. I wouldn’t say that someone should retire and make way for others because they are themselves capable of working hard, winning and winning a medal for the country. Talking about juniors, they should and they are working hard in order to accomplish their Olympic dream. Junior players get their inspiration from seniors like us and they train after seeing us work hard. Junior wrestlers wish to defeat the top senior wrestler in their weight category and make it to higher levels of competition. There are trials for every competition in India and the one who is capable enough only is going to make it to the top.
You must still recall the glory moment at the Rio Games in 2016? How does it feel to be the only female Indian wrestler to have won an Olympic medal?
Yes, definitely I recall my glory in Rio. It has been the most special moment and is very close to my heart. Being the first-ever woman from India to clinch a medal in wrestling at the Olympics is a very proud feeling. My life changed after the Rio Olympics, people have been showing so much support, love and respect and they are very hopeful of me getting a medal at Tokyo 2020 also.
India won just one medal in wrestling in Rio which came through you. How would you rate India’s chances of winning wrestling medals this time in Tokyo?
Yes, there was only one medal in wrestling in Rio, but this time things are going to be different. We all are hopeful that India will win the most number of medals in wrestling in Tokyo.
Who according to you is the top medal contender in wrestling this time at the Olympics?
We all are hopeful that India will bag the most number of medals in wrestling in Tokyo. Bajrang, Vinesh, Ravi all are very good and very capable of winning medals. They all have won medals and qualified at the world qualifications which is a very big tournament and I would also want to qualify and win a medal for my country in Tokyo.