Relieved to win gold in Asiad, Seema Punia aims Olympics medal

Her career revived after winning a gold at the just-concluded Asian Games, star discus thrower Seema Punia on Monday said that she is not content with her feat in Incheon and is eyeing a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Relieved to win gold in Asiad, Seema Punia aims Olympics medal

New Delhi: Her career revived after winning a gold at the just-concluded Asian Games, star discus thrower Seema Punia on Monday said that she is not content with her feat in Incheon and is eyeing a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Seema, the only individual gold medallist among track and field athletes in the South Korean city, rued the lack of financial support and expects corporate sponsorships coming her way to prepare for next year's World Championships and Rio Games.

"I have been in the international circuit for more than 14 years and I feel it is a sort of revival in my career. I am relieved that I got a gold in Incheon because I need it to boost my confidence for bigger things ahead," Punia told PTI in an interview after returning home from Incheon today.

"I want to win a medal in World Championships next and of course my ultimate aim is to bag a medal in 2016 Rio Olympics," said Punia, who held the national record from 2004 to 2012 when Krishna Poonia broke it.

The 31-year-old Punia, who hurled the disc to 61.03m in Incheon to bag the gold, said her training at the United States under coach Tony Ciarelli has helped her a lot and she would request the government to send her for foreign sojourn before World Championships and Rio Olympics.

"I trained under Tony before the 2012 London Olympics and then for three months -- May, June and July -- before the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and that has helped me a lot in reviving my career.

"I will approach the sports ministry in a few days to request to send me to US again as soon as possible because I want to do well in the World Championships (in Beijing in August)," she said.

"Earlier, I got sponsorship from 2011 to 2012 from the Mittal Champions Trust but it has stopped sponsoring athletes. I am a poor sub-inspector at Haryana Police with a little over Rs 30,000 salary per month. So, I need sponsorship from corporate sector to realise my dream of winning a medal in Rio Olympics," she said.

Seema was considered one of the top talents in Indian athletics after she won a gold in the World Junior Championships in Chile a decade back, but later the world body IAAF withdrew her medal on dope charges.

She came back to win a bronze in World Junior Championships again two years later and then set the national record (64.84m) in 2004. But after that, she was under a dope cloud just before the 2006 Asian Games and since then has been under the shadow of 2010 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Poonia.

Seema's confidence of going the distance for a medal in the World Championships and Rio Olympics stemmed from a change in technique on the suggestion of her husband and coach Ankush Punia.

"I made changes in technique after my marriage in 2011 with Ankush who is also an international discus thrower. My height is six feet one inch but I was releasing the disc at around five feet and five inches. He told me to raise the height of release.

"Now I am releasing the discus at around six feet and that has giving me results in Glasgow CWG and Asian Games. I am going to raise the height for another two inches and I hope that should give me an additional four to five metres. I need to do 66 metres in Olympics. Otherwise, there is no chance of winning a medal in Rio," she added.

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