• At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Malik clinched bronze and became the first Indian female wrestler to win an Olympic medal.

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By Shivansh Gupta, New Delhi

PUBLISHED ON JUL 22, 2021 07:35 AM IST

Wrestling has been a strong suit for India at the Olympics. The grapplers have brought home medals in the past three editions but nobody has managed to win a gold medal. That, however, could change during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, according to Sakshi Malik, who believes that India will win at least four medals in the event.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Malik clinched bronze and became the first Indian female wrestler to win an Olympic medal. While assessing the star-studded, seven-member wrestling contingent for the Tokyo Games, she sounded confident of her compatriots putting in medal-winning performances. In particular, she pinned massive hopes on world No.1 Vinesh Phogat and second-seeds Bajrang Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya.

“This is our strongest contingent yet. I expect them to win at least four medals,” Malik said during a press conference attended by select media.

She added: “Names that will definitely get us a medal are Vinesh, Bajrang and Ravi, and Anshu [Malik]. The other three are juniors and if they do well, they can win us medals too. “

Phogat will be appearing in her second Olympics. During her debut appearance in Rio, she suffered a potentially career-ending injury and crashed out during her quarterfinals bout. But the grappler has fought hard to earn her way back to the top and Malik remarked that she will be able to deal with the pressure and go all the way.

“She (Vinesh Phogat) is very strong and is the world no.1. She will win a medal this year and if she continues to do well, she will be a contender next time around as well. She has a lot of experience. I can only tell her all the best. Last time when she didn’t win the medal, she came to me and even cried because she had worked so hard. Her time as arrived now. She will win a medal for this country for sure,” revealed Malik, who will be part of the Sony Sports live studio show, Sports Extraaa, during the Olympics.

Malik failed to make the cut this time around but is determined to work on her shortcomings and make a strong comeback. She also added that ups and downs and a part and parcel in an athlete’s life and that it is important to bounce back.

“There are ups and downs in every athlete’s life. They cannot work like machines. Talking about shortcomings, whatever matches I have lost, I have lost them in the last 5-10 seconds. So, I will work on that and overcome this issue in the future,” she commented.

While concluding, the 28-year-old advised the wrestlers not to worry, come under pressure, and urged them to overcome there and give their best.

(Watch the Olympic Games on Sony TEN 2 and Sony SIX channels in English and SONY TEN 4 channels in Tamil & Telugu)