Bengaluru: Olympic bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik sought to steer clear of the raging debate over allowing Pakistani players in India amid heightened diplomatic tensions but said on Friday that athletes have the right to compete against fellow rivals anywhere in the world.
"Media has been, since morning, wrongly highlighting that I want Pakistani players should be invited to participate in various international sports events. I haven't said anything like that," Sakshi told reporters on the sidelines of the 11th anniversary of Garuda Mall at Bengaluru.
Sakshi was reacting to a query on Pakistani players being barred from participating in any kind of event in India in the aftermath of Uri attacks and surgical strikes carried out by the Indian government.
Clarifying further, Sakshi said she had only said that the players have the right to play against any other player in the world, and not anything more than that.
"What I told was – players have all the rights - like we participate in the Games (Olympics) and we happen to play against other players, belonging to different countries... I haven't advocated Pakistani players should be allowed to play in India," she said.
Asked if she would toe the line of Yuvraj Singh and Saina Nehwal to invest money in startups or any business, Sakshi said she loves wrestling and would like to help kids who do not have the wherewithal to extend their careers.
"I love wrestling, and I would love to spend my money for helping kids who are in want of money to take up the sport or sustain their careers," she said.
Sakshi further said money and winning a medal does not make a success story of an individual, but doing good things for the country does.
"If I do something good for the country – that is success for me, not getting money and winning medals – that is not success to me at all," Sakshi said.
Sakshi has been flooded with a lot of rewards, which include Rs 2.5 crore awarded to her by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
She said her life has changed a lot after winning the bronze medal at Rio.
"My life has changed a lot. The whole country is beginning to know me, but with this my responsibilities have only increased," she said.
Replying to a query, Sakshi said she has already begun training for the upcoming World Wrestling League.