Aug 9: Under the scanner for her below-par performance in the run-up to the Asian Games, Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik is feeling the heat but insists that athletes always aim for medals so that fingers are not pointed at them.
The 25-year-old from Haryana had to settle for a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in April and recently crashed out of the Yasar Dogu International in Istanbul before reaching the medal round.
She along with three other wrestlers (Vinesh Phogat, Sushil Kumar, Bajrang Punia) were exempted from the trials for the Asian Games but recently WFI officials told media that it was a cause of concern for them that both Sushil and Sakshi are not in form.
"We want to win medal every time we step on the mat. Only we know how we face people when we return without medal. It becomes so tough to answer when people ask questions," Sakshi told PTI in an interaction after a training session in Lucknow.
"We also want to perform well so that no one points fingers at us and that we face no questions for which we have no answer."
Sakshi conceded that recent results are not according to expectations but asserted that it was not due to lack of effort.
"After Rio, I have done well in many championships. There are always ups and downs in athletes’ life but we always try to give our 100 percent and bring laurels for the country. There is no lack of effort during training," she said.
Sakshi, who will compete in the 62kg category in Jakarta, also admitted that she needs to get stronger mentally, going into the Games.
"I need to be strong mentally and get better. JSW has helped me in taking help of a sports psychologist. I have been advised to meditate and develop positive thinking and think about my strong moves.
"Now I meditate and sometimes I try to analyse my performance, why I am losing, before I sleep."
At Yasar Dogu, Sakshi had won the qualification round before suffering a defeat by fall against Elmira Gambarova. In the same 62kg category, Sarita had won a bronze with a commanding 10-0 win over Turkey's Cansu Aksoy.
Asked how she analyses her performance, Sakshi replied, "There are small things, little bit of technique and little bit of strategic part, like I have to fight differently against wrestlers from different countries.
"Few wrestlers are powerful and few are strong technically, so I am working on all these things. In the camp (in Lucknow) we are working on speed and technique."
Talking about her own expectations at the Asian Games, Sakshi said, "I had set a target of gold medal for myself at the CWG also but now I am not thinking about the colour of medal. I just want to execute on the mat what I am doing while training. Rest is up to God."
Is it lack of confidence in her own ability?
"No it is not. Nobody will say that I will bring gold. I just expect myself to give 100 per cent."
Sakshi took satisfaction from the fact that after her medal show at the Rio Games, more girls are inclined to take up the sport.
"People know me now and expect more from me. It feels good and I feel proud. There are a few girls who have picked sport after my Rio showing."
Only we know how we face people when we return without medal, says Sakshi Malik