JAKARTA: Seema Punia made a grand gesture on Thursday, minutes after clinching a bronze medal in women’s discus throw. The Haryana athlete said she would be donating Rs 1 lakh and her pocket money from the Jakarta trip (around $700, roughly Rs 49,000) to help the people of Kerala in this hour of need.
“I have decided to donate my pocket money and also one lakh more to the Kerala flood victims,” she said. “Not only that, I will go to Kerala and try to serve the people there for some time. They have gone through an awful lot in recent times and making this kind of gesture feels right.”
She also urged all other members of the Indian contingent to make a similar contribution to help the state tide over the devastating floods. “I ask all other athletes from the country to donate at least half of their pocket money to help the people who have been affected by it.”On the issue of finances, she also asked the sports ministry to at least double the payment made to masseurs who are here with the Indian team. “They work for all of us, put in long hours and get only Rs 700 per day. That is clearly not enough.”
On her actual performance, she said the result would have been different had she found her rhythm a bit sooner. “You can continue to ask me but I don’t have retirement on my mind. My tempo wasn’t really there after a bad first throw (58.51m). In fact, I will make a promise right now. I will come back from the 2020 Olympics with a medal.”
After visiting Kerala, the 35-year-old, who finished third with a throw of 62.26m (a few metres below her personal best), said she will be going under the knife to treat a bone spur on her left foot. “This clearly affected my performance as I was in a lot of pain. The condition had occurred during the Commonwealth Games but it wasn’t this bad then. It’s obviously become worse now. I had to throw with the pain and I will have to get a surgery to get it right.”
The sub-inspector with Haryana Police, who was in a particularly chatty mood, also said she had given up any hope of winning the Arjuna award. “I think I have done enough over the last eight years,” she said. “But I have gone to that point now that I don’t really think I need it anymore to be honest.”