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Toast of the country after fetching India's first Commonwealth Games Gold medal in 52 years yesterday, Discus thrower Krishna Poonia could not hide for long the mother in her as she almost broke down while recounting how she had to be away from her son in search of one aim - to strike a yellow metal in the quadrennial mega event.
"It was extremely tough. If you have a small child you will know it. Myself and my husband (who is also her coach) have not been with our son (Lakshya Raj Poonia) even for a month at a stretch because of the hectic training schedule, including foreign tours," Poonia said, barely being able to fight tears.
"I have been training at NIS Patiala. I had also been in USA and just before the Games I had been to Ukraine and so I have been far away from my child. But after winning gold for the country after 52 years I feel I have not been away from my child for so long for nothing. I am satisfied that I have done
something for the country by sacrificing my time with my child," she told at a press conference, with her husband Virender Poonia by her side.
Asked to whom she would dedicate her gold medal, Poonia said, "I would not have been speaking to you today had my husband not supported me all through. So I dedicate my Gold medal to my husband and my son. One was very near to me and the other far (while training). He (Lakshya) had his examination yesterday but he could make it to the stadium after it."
Her husband Virender said he and Poonia did not worry much about their son as he was looked after by his brothers' family.
"We are a joint family, so Lakshya was looked after by my two brothers and their wives in our absence," he said.
Poonia felt it was not right for some top athletes to cite security and other concerns as reasons for pulling out of the Games and said India can host big sporting events "successfully".
"I think it was not right for athletes to cite security reasons for pulling out. India can provide security to our guests. The Games are going on successfully and we have shown that India can host big events successfully," she said.
The 28 year-old Poonia said that despite world champion Dani Samuels' absence, the Discus throw competition was a tough one.
Poonia said she expects a revival of Athletics just like the success of Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Singh and Sushil Kumar had raised the profile of their respective sports in the country.
"The performance of Abhinav, Vijender and Sushil had revived and raised the profile of their respective sports. I hope Athletics will be revived after India's performance in the Commonwealth Games. We have already won seven medals and more will come. I am looking for gold in the Asian Games and
if we keep doing well the profile of Athletics will be raised," said Poonia who was born and brought up in Agroha village in Kurukshetra district in Haryana.
Poonia said she would not have come back to the sport in 2002 after her marriage and injury but for the insistence of her husband Virender who was also a national champion in Hammer throw.
"I took part in college meets but left the sport after injury and marriage. For three years I did not do anything but in 2002 my husband insisted that I should again start Discus throw," she said.
Virender said at first he was not aware of Poonia having tried her hands at Discus before marriage but once he came to know of it he ensured that she start it again.
"I don't know she did Discus throw before marriage. Once I came to know, I wanted her to start again. So she started in 2002 and after eight years of hard work she is now here," Virender said.
"She once took part in the Kurukshetra inter-university meet and Lalit Bhanot (now AFI Secretary and Organising Committee Secretary General) came there as chief guest. He saw her and impressed with her height, he put her at the national camp," Virender narrated.
"We need more international exposure. Once we start competing with the best in the world we won't feel intimidated by them in big events. We will start taking them just like a normal competitor," she also added.
Harwant Kaur, who won Silver, said the strong competition among her, Poonia and Bronze medallist Seema Antil had helped India sweep the Discus throw medals.
"We have strong competition amongst us and I was confident that we would win medals. When I was watching long jumper M A Prajusha winning a Silver and the crowd cheering I thought how good it would be if we win medals in Discus throw. It happened and we swept all the medals. It does not matter whether Poonia won Gold or I won Silver and Antil took Bronze, we are very happy," she said.