While Pullela Gopichand, coach of Rio Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu is being showered upon with both, accolades as well as the money, Bronze medalist Sakshi Malik’s coach Kuldeep Malik still largely remains an unsung hero.
Though Sakshi Malik, his disciple is enjoying the deserved fame and accolades, but unlike Pullela Gopichand who accompanies Sindhu to all felicitation ceremonies, Kuldeep Malik chooses to remain behind the curtains despite his feat being equally colossal to that of Gopichand’s.
“I made 1.3 billion people feel proud and no reward can match this feat”
He cherishes the moments when Sakshi won the Bronze and she hurled the tri-colour while sitting on his shoulders. “My disciple ended India’s nightmare at Rio with a Bronze and the memories of the way India celebrated that medal is something I would love to carry to my grave. No amount of reward is bigger than those moments. I saw on TV that how people were celebrating Sakshi’s victory and no reward is bigger than making 1.3 billion people feel proud in one go,” Said a jubilant Kuldeep Malik.
No cash reward till now
While his disciple Sakshi Malik is being showered upon of loads of money, Kuldeep Malik remains largely empty handed. Till now neither the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has declared any reward for him, nor any other institution. Though Haryana government had declared cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for Kuldeep, but unlike Sakshi who was given the cheque of Rs 2.5 crore from CM ML Khattar during her felicitation, Kuldeep didn’t get anything despite being present on the same stage.
Vinesh was unlucky otherwise we would have got another medal
Vinesh Phogat, a champion wrestler who got injured during her second bout at Rio was favourite for winning the medal and Kuldeep too believes that it was her misfortune otherwise she could have even won gold. “Vinesh was unlucky otherwise the kind of form she was in, one more medal was certain. In her first bout as well, she had got minor injury in hand, but she defeated her rival 11-0 which shows how prepared she was. In second bout, she got both ligaments of her right knee broken. I was certain of a medal from her and it could have been gold because she was in red hot form. ” added Kuldeep.
Kuldeep is disheartened for Vinesh but not disappointed. He believes that Vinesh is a champion material and will rise in Tokyo. “It will take another six months for her to recover from injury. But since she is very dedicated, she will rise to her best form soon and if destiny doesn’t forsake her much like Rio, she will win medal at Tokyo,” added Kuldeep.
“I won’t let Sakshi lose her focus”
Sakshi Malik, now a days is busy in enjoying her success. Cash rewards, BMW car, accolades, new job offers and many other benefits are flocking in from left, right and centre. Such an unprecedented amount of success often derails an athlete from the path of hard work, but Kuldeep says that he won’t let Sakshi lose focus from her goal to be a champion wrestler.
“These are her moments to enjoy after such an unprecedented success. She deserves these moments and I don’t wanna disturb her, but once done with celebrations, awards, rewards, cars and this galore, I would again employ her in the grueling schedule, she was under a couple of month ago. I will remain her coach even if she joins job with Haryana government and leaves her job with railways. I won’t let her lose focus,” added Kuldeep Malik.