Indian wrestler Sonam Malik earned her plaudits first when she defeated the 2016 Rio Olympics Bronze medallist, Sakshi Malik. Now the 19-year-old has qualified as the youngest ever Indian to feature in the Olympics and she admits that her wins over Sakshi give her confidence that she can beat anyone in her category.
Sonam won against Sakshi at the national championships and also at the national trials and believes that has played a big role in shaping her confidence. She recently booked her ticket to Tokyo at the Asian Olympic Wrestling qualifiers.
“For me, it’s like, ‘If Sakshi di can qualify for the Olympics, even I can.’ I have had a good time competing against her. I have always gone into international competitions with that mindset and that’s helped a lot,” Sonam Malik said in an interaction with the Olympic Channel.
The young wrestler has been the talk of the town with her exceptional performances against veterans in the highly competitive 62kg category. However, she needs to improve on her second-place finish at the Asian qualifiers which also is her best finish at the senior level. But the challenges will be tougher at the Tokyo Olympics and she is ready to sweat it out even more.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on me going into competitions. The coaches want me to enjoy myself and give my best,” Sonam, a wrestler from Sonipat said. “Even at the qualifiers, the goal was very clear. I wanted to give my 100 per cent and ensure that I qualify.
“Yes, it is disappointing when you go with the team and you have to return empty-handed while others end up winning medals. But my sole focus has been on giving my best every time I get an opportunity.
“The primary target has always been to qualify for the Olympics. I have seen every other event as a preparation for the qualifiers. I am happy I could go the distance when it mattered the most,” she added.
With a few months left for the Summers Games to begin in Tokyo, Sonam is eagerly looking forward to it. However, the condition in India is deteriorating with every passing day as the second wave of COVID-19 leaving the country in complete chaos. In this situation, it is difficult for any sportsperson to keep their calm. However, Sonam looks to take inspiration from last year and feels that she will continue to work hard.
“It was shocking in the beginning (of the pandemic). I was upset. I had prepared well for the qualifiers last year and just before the event the lockdown was announced,” she recollected.
“But then when I spoke with my coaches and my parents, they told me to look at the year as some more time to improve myself. Thankfully my training never stopped.
“My brother helped me train well. I could continue training without much trouble. I think I made the most of the time to be where I am today,” Sonam signed off.