Sakshi Malik wins maiden CWG gold, India’s 3rd medal in wrestling at 2022 Games


Sakshi Malik defeated Ana Godinez Gonzales of Canada to win gold in the women’s 62kg freestyle wrestling final at the Commonwealth Games 2022. Sakshi, whose campaign started with a quarterfinal bout on wrestling’s opening day at the Games, breezed past all her opponents to ensure a top of the podium finish. Sakshi, a bronze medallist from Rio Olympics, had finished with a bronze at the Gold Coast Games four years ago. But this time around, she improved the colour and won her first gold, bringing India its 22nd overall medal and third in wrestling after Anshu Malik’s silver and Bajrang Punia’s gold earlier in the day.

Sakshi’s first opponent was Kesley Barnes of England in the quarterfinal, whom she defeated 10-0 on the basis of technical superiority. She continued her relentless effort in the semifinal to get the better of Berthe Emilienne Etane Ngolle, again to technical superiority to dish out her best CWG performance. In the final, she was up against Gonzales of Canada, where Sakshi made a stunning comeback to secure the win via pinfall.

Down 2-3 at the end of the first round, Sakshi looked likely for a silver. Gonzalez went for a leg attack which Sakshi could not defend, twice. It allowed the Canadian to take four points. But in a remarkable comeback, Shastri was quick to make a takedown, and aided by a reversal, pulled off a pinfall for the win. The win brought back memories of her win at Rio 2016, and while this wasn’t a last second turn of the dice, six years ago, she was trailing 0-4 as well.

Sakshi had previously won the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to go with a bronze medal at the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships in Doha. Malik’s first success as a professional wrestler in the international arena came in 2010 at the Junior World Championships where she won the bronze medal in the 58 kg freestyle event.

Earlier this year, Sakshi ended a five-year wait for an international gold at the Ranking Series in Almaty this June. Last month, Sakshi won bronze at the Tunis Ranking Series, indicating she may have found her groove ahead of the CWG. And on Friday at the Coventry Arena, she proved the notion right.