Incheon: Seema Punia, who captured her first gold medal in the Asian Games with a front-leading performance against two top Chinese rivals, broke down during the medal ceremony for the women's discus throw event as she had missed the bus in 2006 and 2010 editions.
"I was very emotional on the podium and I broke down into tears because this was my first Asian Games after missing the two previous Asian Games, partly because of a doping allegation in 2006 when I was innocent. On the podium, all the pain and the sacrifices came to my mind. Back then I could also not win the prestigious Arjuna award from the government because of the doping allegation," she explained at the media conference for medal winners.
"This is my first Asian Games and I really worked hard for this. The past two times I did not qualify for the Asian Games for various reasons even though I set the national record. I have worked hard over the last three years. I just thought about competing and winning this Asian Games gold because this is very important to me," she said.
"The stipulation in India regarding the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games (qualification was only for the first two CWG finishers and not bronze winners) was the reason why I could not participate in the 2010 games," she commented.
Seema won the gold with a best effort of 61.03m in her fourth throw while Chinese duo of Lu Xiaoxin and Tan Jian clinched the silver and bronze.
Seema said that once the support system she had enjoyed from a private organisation ended, she found it difficult to continue with her top level training.
"After that the government supported me and I was sent for training to the USA for three months," she said.
She also said her victory today in the face of two strong Chinese competitors showed they can be beaten.
"China is very strong. However, everyone needs to work very hard and try their best. Any team can beat China if they try very hard and work hard enough. I think I have showed it through my gold medal."