Anshu Malik, a freestyle wrestler from Nidani village in Jind, Haryana, became the first Indian to finish on the podium at the Individual Wrestling World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia, winning a silver medal in the women's 57kg division. She lost to Moldova's Anastasia Nichita 5-1 in the final.
This was Anshu’s third international tournament at the senior level, and she has won a medal in each of the previous ones.
Anshu comes from a family of wrestlers, with her father, Dharamvir Malik, a wrestler himself who represented the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for a while. He had initially thought that his son Shubham would become a wrestler.
Anshu had been more inclined towards academics and was a class topper. She developed an interest in the sport when she accompanied Shubham to a training session at school. She started training too, and within four years, Anshu clinched a silver medal at the Asian Junior Wrestling Championships in Taiwan in 2016. It was followed by a bronze at the World Cadet event in the same year.
These continuous wins led Dharamveer to quit his job at the CISF and relocate to wherever Anshu was training – just to provide support to his daughter.
Anshu’s first foray into the sport started at the CBSM Sports School in her village, under the training of coach Jagdish Sheoran, who has coached over 20 international wrestlers.
In 2017, she won the gold medal at the World Cadet Championships in Athens, and the Cadet National Championship, and a bronze medal at the Asian Cadet Wrestling Championship, Bangkok. She won big in 2018 as well, including the gold medal at the Asian Cadet Wrestling Championship at Uzbekistan, and gold medal at the Cadet National Championship 2018.
After winning the gold medal at the Cadet National Championship national title last year, Anshu pulled off wins over 2019 World Champion Linda Morais of Canada and two-time European Champion Grace Bullen of Norway. It was her senior international debut in the Ranking Series Mattio Pellicone in Italy. Her senior debut came in early 2020 - before the COVID-19 pandemic shut competition down.
Earlier this year, she had won a bronze at the Asian Championship in New Delhi, and silver at the Mattio Pellicone event in Rome.
Anshu’s next target is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
(Edited by Anju Narayanan)