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Rio Olympics: Wrestler Sakshi Malik wins India’s first medal – bronze in 58kg freestyle

Rio de Janeiro: Sakshi Malik on Thursday scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only fourth female athlete from the country to climb to the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world with a bronze medal finish at the Rio Games.

Sakshi’s victory brought cheers to the Indian contingent that had endured agonising 11 days without a medal.

The 23-year-old from Rohtak became only the fourth woman athlete from India to win an Olympic medal as she earned the dramatic win after falling behind 0-5 in the do-or-die bout on day 12.

Weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari (2000, Sydney), boxer MC Mary Kom (2012, London) and shuttler Saina Nehwal (2012, London) were the only other women athletes from India to have won a medal in Olympics.

Like in three of the four other bouts earlier in the day, Sakshi won the crucial bout after coming from behind. She, in fact, had lost 2-9 in the quarter-finals to Russia’s Valeriia Koblova in the fifth bout of the day before getting a second chance in repechage when her conqueror reached the final.

Rio 2016: Sakshi Malik creates history, becomes first Indian woman wrestler to bag Olympic medal

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It wasn’t an ideal start for the 23-year-old as she conceded a five-point lead early in the contest, and like in three out of the four bouts earlier in the day, she was back from behind to produce the moves when they mattered, and seal the win.

Tynybekova started on a positive note as her leg-grab put her in the lead. She repeated the move again and sat in a comfortable position. Malik opened the scoring in the second period of the bout when she pushed her opponent down and out of the mat. She hit back with a similar move to reduce the deficit to just one point.

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In her Round of 16 match, Sakshi beat Moldova’s Mariana Cherdivara on the back of a bigger point margin in a single move after both were locked at 5-5. And in the opener, Sakshi produced a scintillating turnaround from 0-4 down to win 5-4 with her final two points coming in the closing stages of the contest.

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