With only 28 medals in total under its name, India’s performance at the Olympic Games over the years has been sub-par, at best. Wrestling, however, seems to be a sport where Indians are increasingly doing well. With names like Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt representing the country, India’s wrestling performance has improved quite a bit. In the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman to win a medal in the sport. After her bronze win, she is all set to change the colour of that medal to gold for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
We caught up with Malik at an ASICS event, where the brand announced its collaboration with the wrestler. We asked her about her fitness journey and how she’s keeping herself in top shape to gear up for the 2020 Summer Olympics – to become a double Olympic medalist.
When did you first start training to be a wrestler? What kind of exercises did you start with?
Sakshi Malik: I started training when I was 12 or 13 years old. I started with basic fitness exercises like running and learning the wrestling stance. It was difficult to do much at the time, so I used to just follow my coach’s instructions.
How important is it to be fit for a wrestler? What kind of fitness abilities do you work on?
Sakshi Malik: Fitness is the most important thing – it is impossible to perform if you’re not fit. This sport is so tough that you require each part of your body to be strong. While power and strength need to be constantly worked on, I like to work on my techniques quite a bit. In addition, it is also important to work on your mental strength and discipline. In a sport like wrestling, you need to make split decisions to go into attack or defense, and without the right focus, you can’t achieve this.
What is your daily fitness routine like?
Sakshi Malik: We have 12 types of training sessions every week, which take place in the morning as well as night. Every day is different – one day could be gym training and another day could be feet work or power training. We also have separate training session for playing matches. Sunday, however, is a day to rest.
What are your 3 go-to exercises?
SM: I like exercising with therabands (resistance bands) – you can work out and practice your wrestling moves anywhere with them. I also like cycling and doing chin ups.
What cardio exercises do you employ if you have to lose weight before matches?
SM: If I need to lose weight quickly, I prefer doing long-term cardio exercises, like running at the same pace for about 30 minutes or cycling at the same pace for an extended period of time.
What kind of a diet do you follow?
SM: I don’t follow a strict diet. If a competition is coming up, I remove things like sugar and ghee from my diet. This helps me lose 3 or 4 kilos. Other than this, I don’t follow a diet.
How important is it to wear the right training gear while wrestling?
SM: For wrestling, or any other sport for that matter, it is imperative that your clothes and shoes are comfortable while playing. If your shoes don’t fit you well, you are at a higher risk of getting injured. My two go-to sneakers are ASICS Gel Kayano 26 and ASICS Metaride.