GOLD COAST: At the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, Punam Yadav battled poverty, hardship and day-to-day struggle to win a bronze in 63kg weightlifting. Coming from a very humble family in Varanasi, Punam was seeking survival through sport. Her fortunes did change after that.
Now Punam is no longer buried in poverty. Despite her father not working and mother being a homemaker, she has a job to support her family.
The loans her father had taken back then have been cleared. She has moved up the ladder. Even her weight category has gone up to 69kg. Her medal is gold this time.She lifted 222kg (100kg+122kg) ahead of England’s Sarah Davies, who managed 217kg (95kg+122kg). This was Punam’s personal best.
“I was expecting a fight from the Fijian lifter but it was the English girl who gave a good fight,” said Punam. “In the World Championships, it was Fiji who won the gold.” Punam is not new to competing with Sarah. The English girl was there in Glasgow also. “Since I had won bronze there, I decided to change my category. I talk to her and I knew she could lift it. I was nervous during her last lift. But she failed.”
The girl from Varanasi started weightlifting in 2010 when she was 17.
“My elder sister took me to the SAI hostel in Lucknow and I enrolled under JP Sharma sir. I was there for three years. After that, I came to the India camp in 2014.”
She recollected how she had to fight societal pressure while pursuing sports. “My father Kailasnath did not care what the people around him said. He just wanted his girls to do well. My younger sister and brother are also weightlifters. Younger sister is a national champion.”
For Punam, the dream has just got bigger. “After this, I will start preparations for the Asian Games. My target is a medal and lifting 5kgs more.”
This was India’s fifth gold in weightlifting at this edition. The lifters, whose last events are on Monday, also bagged two bronze medals and one silver medal.
Women beat Olympic champions
The Indian women’s hockey team stunned England 2-1 to move into second place in Pool A. England, the Olympic champs, took the lead in the opening minute but a resilient India hit back with two goals in the third period. The men’s team beat Wales 4-3. It looked to be heading for a draw but SV Sunil scored from a PC.