Sakshi Malik, who created history when she won India's first medal at the Rio Olympics 2016 becoming the first Indian woman to win a wrestling medal, had very simple beginnings.
As a kid, she wanted to fly in an aeroplane and has said that it was one of the reason why she took up competitive sport. From just wanting to fly to clinching a bronze at the Olympics, the biggest sporting stage of all, the Haryana wrestler Sakshi Malik has come a long way.
Malik defeated Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan 3-1 to win the bronze medal in women's freestyle wrestling 58kg category. "It's my dream of 12 years come true, I'm so happy," Malik said, "I was very confident I would win."
A windfall of cash rewards and incentives, amounting to at least Rs 3.5 crore, fittingly awaited the bronze-medallist
But one of the most touching gestures came from Air India, who offered the girl, who once dreamed of flying in an aeroplane, a direct opportunity to do so. The airlines have offered the wrestler two complementary business class tickets to any international destination in the next year.
— Air India (@airindiain) August 19, 2016
In a letter addressed to the wrestler, Ashwani Lohani, the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India said that they were proud of her victory.
"The entire Air India family is proud that you have won the first medal for the country in the Rio Olympics", the letter said, shared by ANI on Twitter, said.
"As a mark of our recognition and gratitude for your outstanding achievement in the Rio Olympics, Air India is proud to offer you two (for you and your companion) return business class tickets between any two destinations on the entire Air India network valid for a period of one year," it continues.
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 19, 2016
“I never knew what an Olympics was, I wanted to become a sportsperson to travel in an aeroplane. If you can represent India, you can board a plane, and fly,” Sakshi had earlier said.
Now, not only has she represented India, she has done so with flying colours.
This gesture by Air India has been appreciated all over social media, and surely Sakshi will be pleased to her that a childhood wish has come true on such a big scale.
In addition to this, Sakshi will be collecting several more rewards for her feat in Rio. Her state government Haryana has announced a reward of Rs 2.5 crore, while her employer Railways promised a Rs 50 lakh cash award. Railways also declared that Sakshi will be promoted to the rank of a gazetted officer.
Apart from these awards, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had declared a cash reward of Rs 20 lakh. Moreover, according to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports cash awards policy, she is set to get Rs 30 lakh.
International Fitness Festival will also present her Rs 5 lakh. The Uttar Pradesh government also announced that it will honour Sakshi with the coveted Rani Laxmi Bai award.