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HomeSportSakshi-slayer Sonam ready for Tokyo Olympics qualifier

Sakshi-slayer Sonam ready for Tokyo Olympics qualifier

Ajmer Malik remembers the second final yr when he informed his trainee Sonam Malik that she has an enormous struggle arising – in opposition to Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik within the nationwide choice trials for the Asian Championships.

“Her face turned pale as if she had seen a ghost,” says coach Ajmer.

Sonam, with two gold medals (2017, 2019) and bronze (2018) at Cadet World Championships had world-beating potential, but she was only a teenage rookie. Ajmer was making ready her for the 2024 Olympics. Sonam believed she had a number of years left earlier than breaking into the nationwide aspect, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sakshi and Vinesh Phogat. Now the sudden change of plans was baffling for Sonam.

It took lengthy hours of cajoling from Ajmer to make her perceive that she was ready to struggle in opposition to the most effective in India. He spent extra time preventing Sonam’s case with the Wrestling Federation of India to place her within the trials. “They had a degree. Sonam was nonetheless 17. She had little expertise of even competing within the junior worldwide circuit. It will be devastating for a younger lady and there might be possibilities of harm. But lastly they relented,” says Ajmer.

Ajmer, a retired Army subedar and former wrestler, has been coaching Sonam since she was 11. He had put all his retirement advantages to start out the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Sports Academy in Madina village, Sonipat. Ajmer and Sonam’s father Rajendra Malik, additionally a former wrestler, have been mates however they may by no means understand their goals.

“We had restricted means to coach. So, we couldn’t do a lot. I competed in nationals championships from the Army however then I needed to cease wrestling after a knee surgical procedure. In Sonam, we noticed these goals once more. She is proficient and we have now the means to take her to the highest stage,” says Ajmer.

He was making ready to fast-track Sonam into nationwide reckoning with bouts in opposition to Sakshi. Deep inside, Ajmer had made his calculations. After seeing Sonam was simply beating a number of the ladies who have been within the nationwide squad, or fringes of nationwide choice, in native competitions, Ajmer believed she was ready.

“There was nothing to lose. I informed Sonam, ‘This isn’t a contest for you. Treat it similar to a coaching session. We are nonetheless making ready for the 2024 Olympics.’ I do know if she is ready to execute what she does in coaching, she is going to give her struggle. I simply needed to check her and it was a fantastic alternative to know her stage,” says Ajmer.

It turned out to be a defining second in Sonam’s fledgling profession as she beat the Olympic medallist. Since that trial in January final yr, Sonam has met Sakshi on three extra events and crushed her every time, together with within the remaining of the National Championships this yr. She has made a powerful declare time and again that she is India’s finest wrestler within the 62kg class.

Ask her about Sakshi and the fan in her takes over. “Sakshi di is my idol. I noticed her on TV on the Rio Olympics profitable the medal for India. I used to be very nervous within the first bout however my coach sir informed me ‘you don’t have anything to lose, simply give your finest,” says Sonam, 18.

In her first showdown with Sakshi, Sonam made a shocking comeback trailing 10-2. She closed the hole to 10-6 and with seconds left on the clock, she executed a four-point throw to assert victory. There was sufficient left in her tank to clap and cheer herself on the mat.

In the second choice trials a month later, Sonam was behind by a degree (1-2) when she pinned Sakshi down. This yr on the nationwide championships, Sonam stored an attacking Sakshi and pulled off a leg journey at a decisive second to edge previous 7-5. And within the trials for Tokyo Olympics qualifiers final month, Sonam’s four-point throw, from 2-4 down, noticed her win 8-7.

She has grown in confidence with each bout in opposition to Sakshi, discovering openings at essential occasions, exhibiting intelligence on the mat and utilizing assaults that has even left her coach Ajmer shocked.

“She has used sure strikes that she doesn’t usually use in coaching, however when she sees a chance she is ready to execute them, which reveals she is considering on the mat,” says Ajmer.

Every bout with Sakshi has been a studying curve for Sonam.

“Now we all know one another so nicely. Still each time it looks as if a brand new bout. Sakshi di shocked me within the nationals along with her assaults however I used to be in a position to counter,” says Sonam.

Yet, whilst Sonam stalled Sakshi’s goals of a second Olympic medal, the senior wrestler is beneficiant sufficient to assist {the teenager} on the nationwide camp.

“I usually spar along with her and she or he tells me if I do one thing mistaken,” says Sonam.

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