Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal, as she clinched the bronze in the women’s freestyle 58 kg category early on Thursday IST in Rio de Janeiro. Malik beat Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan in the bronze medal match 8-5 following a sensational comeback in the second period, after trailing 0-5 at halftime.
Tynybekova scored the first point of the bout after Malik was penalised for passivity. The Kyrgyzstani soon got four more points for two take-downs as the first period ended with Malik trailing 0-5. However, Malik fought back remarkably in the second period with successive take-downs to level the score, before clinching three points in the last few seconds of the period to take the bout.
Malik, thus, became India’s first medallist at Rio 2016. It was a remarkable turn of events for the 23-year-old, who was given a second chance at winning a medal after losing to Russia’s Valeria Koblova in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. Koblova went on to reach the final, which put Malik through to the repechage round. The Indian wrestler then beat Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia 12-3 in the repechage round to progress to the bronze medal playoff.
Japan’s Kaori Icho won the gold, beating Koblova in the final. The 32-year-old Japanese also created history, becoming the first woman in any sport to win an individual gold medal in four different Olympic Games. She has won the gold in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.