Wrestler Ritu Malik should be beaming when she boards the flight for Oslo, Norway on Friday night to compete in the World Championships scheduled from October 2 to 10. Instead, the 27-year-old from Haryana will be leaving for her first international appearance after three years with a heavy heart. The option of pulling out too keeps haunting her every now and then.
The reason? She is having some kind of separation anxiety to leave behind her son, who will turn just two years old next month. Though she has options of leaving him with her sister or mother-in-law in Rohtak, but the mother inside her is making it difficult to leave him behind. The 2018 Worlds in Budapest, Hungary was her last international appearance.
"I don't know how both of us (me and my son) will manage," Ritu told this daily after completing her training session at Chhotu Ram Stadium on Wednesday evening. The freestyle wrestlers are scheduled to leave on Wednesday night while their women counterparts will leave on Friday night followed by the Greco-Roman wrestlers a couple of days later.
Ritu had been dropping her son at her sister's place every day to ensure she trained regularly for the marquee event. "He cannot sleep without me. Managing him in the daytime is not difficult but he needs me at night. But it seems I don't have any other option at the moment. I requested the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to allow me to train at home so that I can stay with my son but now I have to leave him as we are scheduled to fly back only on October 8."
It certainly was a difficult decision to return to the mat but Ritu felt it would hopefully make son and mother stronger. "He will be celebrating his second birthday on October 11 and I hope, I can win a Worlds medal and gift him that on the occasion. That feeling of leaving him alone is killing me. I hope I board the flight and everything goes off well," said Ritu.
Since becoming a mother, Ritu, a Railway employee, made a comeback in January this year when she won 68kg bronze in the Senior Women National Wrestling Championship in Agra. She then competed in the selection trials held in August to pick national team for the Worlds and finished on the top of the podium to qualify for the event.
Making a comeback was a collective decision taken by Ritu and her husband, Shri Bhagwan, an international Greco-Roman himself. "My family and in-laws supported the decision as they always felt that I can still win international medals. After bronze in the nationals this year, I competed in the trials to ensure I once again represent the country. But now I am worried as the day of departure nears," said Ritu, whose last international medal was 65kg gold in the 2017 Commonwealth Championship.
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