Ranchi: Mired in controversy in the not too distant past, the 34th edition of the National Games means a lot to swimmer Richa Mishra.
One of the biggest names in Indian swimming, Richa was suspended after she tested positive for a banned substance ahead of the Delhi Commonwealth Games last year, before being drafted into the side following NADA`s decision to lift the provisional suspension.
Participating in all the 20 events including three relays, the 27-year-old swimmer has already won six gold and one silver. Her aim is to win as many gold medals as possible to put the bitter episode behind.
"It`s now past. I`m fully focussed on the Nationals. I`m not really bothered about what happened in the past. That is history now," Richa told PTI moments after winning yet another gold despite battling an upset stomach.
Winner of multiple National titles and holder of three National records, Richa`s main target here is to break her own best of eight gold she won in the last meet in Guwahati four years ago.
Having already won six -- including today`s haul of two -- from seven individual competitions, she is very much on course to achieve her target.
"It`s difficult to say how many will I win. Perhaps as many as possible. But I want to get past the eight mark," a smiling Richa said.
Asked whether she is trying to prove a point or two, Richa replied in negative.
"From very early, I`m used to swim in all the events of a competition. I joined the CRPF team when I was just 15-plus as did my sister (Charu) and we would swim as many events as possible and earn more medals and points for the team.
"At the Kolkata Nationals, which was before I swam for Andhra Pradesh, I actually won 10 gold medals," Richa recalled.
Such has been her dominance that Richa was, in fact, at loss for words when asked which was her pet event. Freestyle, breastsroke, backstrokes -- as expected she went on to name almost everything.
"I love all the events. I just love to be in the pool. Swimming is my passion," she said.
For this edition of the Games, Richa was in talks with hosts Jharkhand before she finally settled for Delhi, her native. She argued that there is nothing wrong if an athlete competes for another state for monetary incentive.
Citing the example of IPL, Richa said, "When players are auctioned at the IPL and play for other cities, why is this an issue? Similarly in the entertainment industry actors from other countries (Katrina Kaif and Jacqueline Fernandes) are making money here. So what`s wrong if we do?" she asked.