Sakshi Malik will be the first of India’s three women freestyle wrestlers to begin her campaign at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics when she takes on Sweden’s Johanna Mattsson in the 58 kg category on Wednesday evening.
The 23-year-old Sakshi has been drawn to face Mattsson in the round-of-32 and a win against the Swede will allow her to progress to a match-up against an opponent either from Ecuador or Moldova.
Sakshi won the quota for the Rio Olympics after a strong showing at the final World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Istanbul where she won the Silver medal. She has a Commonwealth Games Silver medal to her name along with an Asian Championship Bronze medal. In her last competitive outing before today, Sakshi had won the Bronze at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Mattsson is a formidable and experienced opponent. A two-time European Champion (2009, 2014) and a Bronze medallist at the World Championship (2010), she is the elder sister of 53-kg 2015 World Championship Silver medallist Sofia Mattsson.
Sakshi said she was looking forward to making her Olympic bow and though Mattsson was a challenging opponent, she was confident that she had prepared well enough to give her a tough fight. “The Swedish wrestler is experienced but my recent performances have given me a lot of confidence. I am sure that with my preparation, I can fight a strong bout,” she said.