Paris Olympics: Reetika Hooda looks to emulate her idol Sakshi Malik | Paris Olympics 2024 News

NEW DELHI: Paris Olympics-bound Reetika Hooda has many firsts to her name. She is the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics in the heavyweight (76kg) division – the highest for women in the sport.
She is the first to clinch the under-23 world championships title in her weight category. She is also the first to win a ranking series medal in her weight class in Hungary.And now, the 22-year-old from the stable of Sir Chotu Ram wrestling academy in Rohtak wants to achieve another historic feat – to emulate her idol Sakshi Malik‘s momentous medal winning show at the Rio Olympics in 2016 by claiming one of her own at the Olympics.
“I am quite excited about Paris. I have trained well and believe I can come back home with a medal around my neck. I understand the enormity of the occasion. The competition will be really tough, but I am backing myself to win a medal. No woman wrestler from India has ever qualified in the heavyweight category and if I win there, it will be truly historic,” Reetika told TOI.
“I am training at Sir Chotu Ram akhada where Sakshi didi had also trained for the Rio Olympics and under the same coach. She is my idol and I want to emulate her feat. When she had come back home with a medal, Rohtak city had accorded her a grand welcome. It was a festive atmosphere. I also want to make my nation and native village proud.”
Reetika said Sakshi has been a big guiding force in her career. The Rio Games medallist is providing regular inputs on how to train for the Olympics. “I am in constant touch with her. She helps me a lot during my training sessions. Also, my coach Mandeep sir has planned my training in such a way that we keep in mind the Paris time and practice according to my competition bouts at the Games. I am mainly focusing on my speed and footwork. Those are my strengths.”
Reetika started her career in the women’s 68kg but wasn’t able to create much impact in that category. She switched to the non-Olympic weight category of 72 kg but later settled for a higher division of 76kg. “I am comfortable fighting in this category because I don’t have to cut down too much weight to prepare for competitions.”

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