After her season’s best performance of 61.61m, which clinched silver at Glasgow on Friday, Seema Antil Punia became the country’s only athlete to bag three successive Commonwealth Games medals (silver in 2006, bronze in 2010).
Despite her achievements, it has been a fight against the system for Seema.A lot of times she had to fight for her dues, and even had to pay the price for being outspoken.
The sports ministry sanctioned foreign training for Seema and other athletes in the build-up to the Glasgow Games, but the money she got was good enough to train for only 50 days, from May 6 to June 30.
Her request for additional funds to participate in more meets, like other athletes, evoked no response from the Sports Authority of India (SAI). As a result, she had to return home on June 30.
“I got around $10,500 (Rs 6.38lakh approx) and in that I had to arrange for boarding, lodging and transporta- tion for my husband-cum-coach Ankush and myself. I could participate in only one meet in USA, in which I achieved the qualifying mark. I couldn’t participate in more meets and shortage of funds forced me to return to India on June 30. I can only narrate how I trained at my home in Meerut for two weeks before leaving for the Games,” Seema told HT from Glasgow.
“I even had to pay the masseur and physio fees from that money. While in USA, I emailed SAI asking for money for the masseur and physio but it went unanswered. Now that I am in good form, I want to continue training in Germany for the Asian Games. Let’s see when the funds will be sanctioned,” she added.
After the US meet, the athletics federation didn’t recognise her qualifying mark and told her to participate in more international meets before the Games. When she requested the federation to make the necessary arrangements, including air tickets, to facilitate her participation, there was silence at the other end.
“Had I competed in more meets before Glasgow, I would have hurled the discus at least a metre or two more,” said Seema.