Sonam Malik Tokyo Olympics: From a village in Haryana to global games in Tokyo, wrestler Sonam Malik is eyeing big dreams at the age of 19.
Bruises are no match for the spirit of this young sportswoman who, despite reeling from a major knee mishap, is refusing to budge from her aspirations. Though she pulled out of the Asian Wrestling Championship finals earlier this year citing her injury, Malik is fixed on yielding returns on the quota she secured for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
"I want to stay humble. People will automatically start talking about me when I come back with an Olympic medal around my neck": Sonam Malik
Notably, Malik is the youngest-ever Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics.
The teenager is 200 percent ready for any challenges to come her way now, she says. Her indomitable drive, however, hasn't hardened without journeying through tough terrains.
For Sonam Malik Tokyo Olympics Is The Stage To Conquer
Born in 2002 at a small Sonipat village in a family of wrestlers, Sonam Malik was naturally inclined towards the sport from a young age. Though the akhadas were populated by grunting, practicing men, Malik soon made space for herself. Ambitions of being the torchbearer of her wrestler father's legacy became the wind beneath her wings.
At age 12, she began formal training at Haryana's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Sports Complex. Here, resources were far and few between, without adequate provisions for athletes. A popular photo of Malik shows her lounging in the mud, gritty with dirt symbolic of the odds she has faced in the road to her dreams.
By 2017, Malik had made a name for herself globally, clinching gold that year in Greece at the Cadet World Wrestling Championship in the 43 kg category. She was training hard, she was training fast. But then the same year, a serious nerve injury on her right shoulder threatened a forever immobile limb.
Her father told Times of India they were depending on the Almighty and Ayurveda for Malik's recovery, lacking the financial means to seek solid medical treatment. God willed, he said.
Malik was back in the arena a year later with greater force, picking bronzes and another gold at World Cadet Championships. But perhaps the most significant testimony of her skill came when she defeated the national champion (and her own idol) Sakshi Malik last year in January during the Asian Championship trials.
The junior Malik has since defeated the senior three more times.
Ahead of her Olympic fight on August 4, a steadfast Sonam Malik has proclaimed, "If anyone takes me lightly, it will be at their own peril."