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Seema claims London berth sans govt support

Last year, she had applied for the National Sports Development Fund to train abroad, but discus thrower Seema Antil's appeal was turned down. Despite repeated requests to allow her to go, the sports ministry stayed unmoved. Saurabh Duggal reports. Her achievements

other Updated: Mar 26, 2012 01:50 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Last year, she had applied for the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to train abroad, but discus thrower Seema Antil's appeal was turned down. Despite repeated requests to allow her to go, the sports ministry stayed unmoved.

Finally, Seema decided to go on her own, but the prohibitive cost was the main hurdle. It was the support from the Mittal Champions Trust (MCT) that saw her achieve the 'A' standard qualifying mark for the London Olympics on Saturday.

Seema hurled the discus to a distance of 62.60m in her first throw at the University of California Open Championship at Irvine, USA.

Her achievements

A relief
"After the silver-winning effort at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, was I able to touch this distance again. It was because of the six-month stint under coach Tony Ciarelli, otherwise I wouldn't have qualified for the London Olympics," Seema told HT.

"Even before the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG), I wanted to train under Tony but nothing materialised. When I won bronze in the CWG, I'd hoped that things would be better and the government would fund my training, keeping in mind the London Olympics. But the attitude was no different and had the MCT not stepped in, I wouldn't have achieved the mark," added Seema, who holds the national record of 64.64m.

After the successful first attempt, Seema's coach stopped her from trying further.

Second games
"After I achieved the 'A' standard in the first attempt, Tony told me to leave the other attempts. We now have a couple of more tournaments here in which I will be trying to improve my distance. If things go to plan, we could have a favourable result at the London Olympics," said Seema, who will be competing in her second Olympics after Athens 2004. medal prospect

"Seema always had great potential, but she had a bad phase in the last couple of years. But

I am happy that she has made it to the London Olympics and it will not be surprising if she wins a medal," said chief national coach, Bahadur Singh, under whom she trains in India.

"In the last six months, Seema has improved tremendously, and in my life, I have never seen such a solid comeback in athletics. The London Olympics mark will surely motivate her to do even better in the coming months," said Manisha Malhotra of MCT.

Krishna Poonia, the 2010 CWG gold medallist, had achieved the 'A' qualifying standard last year.