Paralyzed two years ago, Sonam stuns Sakshi

NEW DELHI: At the end of 2017, it seemed like I could never go back to the mat again. A stab related to the nerves in his right shoulder, which also affected his right arm, left the young fighter Sonam malik paralyzed on his right side.

His world fell apart. I had just returned from World Cadet Fight Championships in Athens (Greece), where he won gold. His dream of representing India in the Olympic Games had become a nightmare.

Court to present, Sonam, 18, made a dream debut at senior level on Saturday, defeating the bronze medalist of the Rio Olympics Sakshi Malik in the trials for three upcoming international tournaments - season's first ranking series tournament to be held in Rome from January 15-18, Asian Fight Championships (in New Delhi from February 18-23) and the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament (in Xian, China from March 27 to 29). The trials were held in Lucknow.

In the semifinals of 62 kg, Sonam was behind 4-6 against Sakshi in the second period, but produced a sensational 4-point throw with only three seconds left in the match to put it 10-10 and win with the criteria of scoring the last point. He then defeated Radhika 4-1 in the final to seal his place in the Indian team.

Another 18-year-old girl, Anshu Malik, who also made her top-level debut, surprised the 2018 CWG silver medalist Pooja Dhanda in the first round of the 57 kg weight class.

Then he knocked down the 2014 CWG silver medalist Lalita Sehrawat in the semifinals. In the final, Anshu beat Mansi Ahalawat to win the right to represent India.

After suffering paralysis, Sonam was sidelined for six months. I couldn't raise my arm. I couldn't hold anything tightly. The diagnosis was that nerve in his shoulder just did not transmit impulses to his arm. The doctor told him to forget about wrestling and think about how he would live from there, he told TOI Ajmer Malik, Sonam's coach since the days he entered an akhada five years ago.

The doctor said that if he was at Sonam's destination, she would recover, he added.

Sonam, who comes from the village of Madina in the Sonepat district of Haryana, has been honing her skills under Ajmer at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Sports Complex since 2014.

Destiny ruled in favor of Sonam and she recovered. His father, Rajender Malik, who himself was a fighter during his youth days and currently works as a deliveryman in a sugar mill in Madina, played an important role in his recovery. Due to my limited earnings, I couldn't allow a reputable doctor to treat her in a big city. We use desi (Ayurvedic) methods to cure it. I think God wanted Sonam to be back on the mat, so he recovered in just six months, Rajender recalled.

Sonam went on to win a bronze at the 2018 World Cadet Fight Championship and then again won another gold at the 2019 World Cadet Fight Championship.

Anshu, who belongs to the Nidani village in the Jind district of Haryana, comes from a family of fighters. She trains with coach Jagdeesh at the Chaudhary Bharat Singh Memorial Sports School in Nidani. His father, Dharamvir Malik, was an international fighter and worked with the CISF. Now grow wheat on a 6-acre land. Anshu's uncle, Pawan, is also a decorated fighter. He was gold medalist of SAFF Games and Haryana Kesari.

When Anshu was 12, he saw his brother go to wrestling practice. He insisted that he also wanted to go. We are from a family of fighters and I did not discourage her, said Dharamvir.

If 18-year-olds dominated the trials, Nirmala Boora, 35, showed that age is just a number. She won the 50 kg test, defeating Pinki 10-0 in the final. Nirmala defeated 50 kg in the world No. 3 Seema Bisla in the semifinals. There were no other surprises like Vinesh Phogat (53 kg) and Divya Kakran (68 kg) easily sealed their places in the Indian team. Kiran Sihag (76 kg) also triumphed in its category.

Indian team: Nirmala Devi (50kg), Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sonam malik (62kg), Divya Kakran (68kg), Kiran Sihag (76kg)