Wrestler Pooja clinches silver at Youth Olympics | other | Hindustan Times
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Wrestler Pooja clinches silver at Youth Olympics

Vijender's bronze at the Beijing Olympics got international fame for Bhiwani. Now, Pooja Dhanda's silver in the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore has placed Hisar, another sleepy town in Haryana, on the world map. Saurabh Duggal reports.

other Updated: Aug 17, 2010 00:05 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Vijender's bronze at the Beijing Olympics got international fame for Bhiwani. Now, Pooja Dhanda's silver in the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore has placed Hisar, another sleepy town in Haryana, on the world map.

On Monday, the 16-year-old wrestler opened the country's account at the Games by defeating three opponents without conceding a point. Pooja eventually lost 1-3 to Baatarzorig Battsetseg of Mongolia in the final to settle for silver in the 60kg freestyle category.

"From Day One, I was confident Pooja will bring laurels for the country. Finally, the day has arrived," said coach, Subhash Chander Soni.

Before the Youth Olympics, Pooja had won silver at the Asian Cadet Championship in Thailand.

"After losing the final to a Japanese wrestler at the Asian meet, Pooja was disappointed and wanted to make up for the loss. Though I was expecting gold, a silver in a big tournament is no mean affair," Pooja's father, Ajmer Singh, told HT from Hisar.

Pooja's passion can be gauged from the fact that after clearing her Class X board exams in 2008 with an impressive 87.5%, she could have opted for Science or Commerce. Instead, she chose Arts. The reason was she wanted to devote more time to wrestling. In her Class XII board exams this year, Pooja scored 86.4%.

"My daughter has made me proud and I am waiting for the day when she will again grab a medal at the London Olympics," said her father.

But initially, Ajmer had his doubts. "When we used to stay in the village, I was also of the opinion that girls were not made for sports. But when we shifted to Hisar and I saw girls pursuing sports, my mindset changed," he said.

Pooja had also tried her hand at judo and won three international medals, including gold at the 2nd Youth Asian championship. It was the success of Geetika Jhakhar, an Arjuna awardee, which got Pooja interested in wrestling.

"I want to wrestle like Geetika didi one day and earn fame like her," Pooja had told HT a year ago.

One hopes a beginning has been made.

Or was there more to it?