Shortlisted to represent India in the women's weightlifting event, Meena Kumari (23), who earlier turned from mountaineering to skydiving, will go for peak performance in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The tailor's daughter is in the middle of a purple patch. After her winning the third consecutive gold medal during All-India Police Games that concluded on December 13 at Ranchi (Jharkhand), the weight of expectations is upon her. She competes in the 63-kilogram category. Her previous two victories in the police competition came as a 58-kilogram athlete.
Coming from Jattewali village in Adampur, Meena holds the police games record for the past two years. In 2012, she lifted 108 kg in clean and jerk, and this year, in a higher category; made it 110 kg. The Commonwealth record of 105 kg in snatch and 130 kg in clean and jerk belongs to Christine Girard of Canada. This is the summit Meena has to conquer to continue her golden run. "She has all the abilities to bring laurels to the country and the state," said Adampur legislator Pawan Tinu, her patron.
The athlete's mother is a housewife and father runs a small tailoring shop in the village. Her eldest brother is a carpenter and the other two brothers are trying hard to settle in Dubai. In National Cadet Corps (NCC) since school, she was selected for the Mount Everest expedition in the year 2007-08 but could not participate because of family's resistance.
Before being selected for the Everest mission, she had climbed icy mountains that were over 14,000 feet. In a skydiving event at Agra in the year 2006-2007, she jumped off AN-32 aircraft from 1,250 feet. "I love adventure since school but my family considered mountaineering and diving from aircraft to be not the right activities for a girl. I'm the youngest in the family and my parents' only daughter."
Her maternal uncle, weightlifter Harmeet Lal, encouraged her to adopt the power sport, and she found her family's support for it. Since 2008, first year of college, she is into weightlifting and enjoying it to the full. Since joining Punjab Police as constable, she has found a good coach in Sarabjeet Kanda, a former Commonwealth athlete; financial and diet support from chief parliamentary secretary (sports) Pawan Tinu. Additional director general of police (Punjab Armed Police) Gurdev Singh Sahota arranged equipments for her on the PAP campus. "Foreign equipment is flexible, and in the past, our athletes who trained on Indian equipment failed to lift the weights cleanly in international competitions. Now, we'll be better prepared," said Meena.
Tinu, has contributed Rs 10 lakh from his discretionary funds to bring world-class equipment to the PAP campus and he hopes for a Meena from Meena in 2014, if she gets to participate. tailor's daughter