I couldn’t hold back my tears, says Sakshi as friend Vinesh bows out of Olympics

Olympic bronze medallist wrestler Sakshi Malik on Thursday expressed her disappointment over India’s strong medal contender Vinesh Phogat’s shocking defeat in the quarterfinal of the 53 kg category at Tokyo 2020.

Vinesh was knocked out 3-9 by Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus at the Makuhari Messe Hall on Thursday morning.

The Haryana grappler looked off-colour during the last-eight clash against the Belarusian wrestler. She struggled to break Kaladzinskaya’s solid defense. The loss, however, was not end of medal hope as repechage remained a possibility.

However, Kaladzinskaya then lost to China’s Pang Qianyu in the semifinal, ending Vinesh’s Tokyo Olympics campaign.

Disheartened with the news, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi told IANS: “I couldn’t hold back my tears. I just saw the semifinal match and I can’t tell you how I am feeling right now. This is our bad day in wrestling. In Rio, Vinesh got injured and she was so hurt at that time. But she then made a strong comeback and worked really hard for Tokyo Olympics. I can’t imagine how she would be feeling right now.

“She was our strong contender. We are still unable to believe that she has lost. This is really a very bad day of my life. I will speak to Vinesh now,” said an emotional Sakshi.

Vinesh had started her campaign on a strong note, winning her opening bout 7-1 against Sweden’s Sofia Magdalena Mattsson, the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist.