Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik’s dream to participate in the Tokyo Olympics was once again crushed by rising new shining star of Indian women’s wrestling Sonam Malik who defeated Sakshi for the second consecutive time on Wednesday and to book her place in the next month’s Olympic qualifiers. Sonam, who won World Cadet Wrestling Championship in Athens, was asked to take part in the trials as she failed to perform well in the Rome Rankings Series and the recently concluded Asian Championships. The 18-year old outperformed her opponent as she pinned Sakshi in the 62 kg weight category trials.
Sonam defeated Radhika first and then defeated 59kg gold medallist in the Asian Championship Sarita Mor 3–1 in the semi-finals. In the finals, Sonam was to lock horns with Rio Olympic Sakshi Malik whom she had earlier defeated in the trials for Rome Rankings Series and the recently concluded Asian Championships. She pinned Sakshi in the second period when she was trailing 1-2 and one minute left in the bout.
A total of 9 women wrestlers participated in the 62 kg category. The 2018 World Championship bronze medalist Pooja Dhanda also participated in the trials which also saw some upper weight category wrestlers also vying for a spot.
Sonam Malik trains at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Sports Institute at Madina (Sonepat) under coach Ajmer Malik.
Her coach said that defeating Sakshi was a big achievement. He further said that Sonam did well even after an elbow injury which happened during the Rome Ranking series.
“Beating Sakshi by fall is a big achievement for this youngster. Sonam tired her out. And this was despite an elbow injury she had suffered during the Rome event and had not recovered completely. She even had not trained well,” said Ajmer
further said that many upper weight category wrestlers were of the belief that they will easily dominate Sonam as she lacked experience. However, Ajmer said Sonam has made them proud emerging victorious in the trials.
It is to be noted that Sonam had shocked the wrestling fraternity by registering a victory over Sakshi Malik in the trials conducted at the beginning of the season to pick teams for the Rome Ranking Series event and the Asian Championships.
The WFI had also made it clear to the grapplers that all those who win medals at these championships will be eligible to participate in the Asian Olympic qualifiers. WFI had also said that if wrestlers failed to perform well at this championship in that case another round of trials will be held to choose the wrestler for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Kiran won the trial in 76kg. The Asian Olympic Qualifiers will be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from March 27-29. The finalists will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.