Weightlifter Punam targets 3rd CWG medal for her daughter

Updated on Jul 28, 2022 12:51 AM IST

Ace weightlifter Punam Yadav re-launched her training stint within three months of giving birth a girl in May 2020

Punam Yadav in action during the Gold Coast Games in 2018. (HT File Photo)
Punam Yadav in action during the Gold Coast Games in 2018. (HT File Photo)
By, Lucknow

Ace weightlifter Punam Yadav re-launched her training stint within three months of giving birth a girl in May 2020. She was keen to show the world that she still has what it takes to embark on her third successive Commonwealth Games medal quest for her country and, this time, for her daughter as well.

Punam, who had built a gym at home in Mirzapur district, gave birth to little Priyanshi in May 2020 in a government hospital. Though private hospitals recommended a caesarean operation, both her husband Dharamraj and Punam insisted on a natural birth to ensure that her weightlifting career was not impacted.

“Punam chose to continue to lift loads after having her baby. Before leaving for the national camp last year, she promised her daughter that this time she would win a medal for her, even though the youngster has yet to figure this out,” said her Dharamraj, a two-time national champion.

“We knew that Punam would be unable to do weightlifting again if the delivery was done through a caesarean operation, so we chose a government hospital. This was only possible after repeated requests were made to doctors and nurses,” added Dharamraj, who represented India in the 2017 Asian Championship.

“I am feeling more energised and nothing less than a podium finish here is acceptable to me. I am here to win a medal for my daughter whom I haven’t seen for the last year,” Punam said on Wednesday after a strenuous training session in Birmingham.

“Chasing a third medal at the Commonwealth Games is very special for me. I know the competition is quite tough, but I am confident about my skill and power. I have been putting a lot of effort after resuming my training last year, and I am sure that if all goes well, I will surely make a podium finish.”

When Punam earned a bronze medal in 63kg at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, she made headlines as a multiple Asian junior medallist and Commonwealth junior champion. In addition to winning the Commonwealth Championship in 2015, she also bagged her first gold at the Commonwealth Games in 69kg in 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia.

Punam hasn’t seen her daughter for the last one year. She keeps in touch with her only via phone after making it to the national camp for the Birmingham Games last year after winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Championships in Tashkent.

“With a big family of six brothers at home, we always make sure Priyanshi feels that Punam is taking care of her,” said Dharamraj, adding, “I bought five tons of iron for Punam’s training and kept her on a strict diet schedule before she went to the nationals.”

Punam, who won gold at the Commonwealth Championship in Pune in 2015 in 63kg and then silver at the 2017 edition at Gold Coast in 69kg, was spotted by Sports Authority of India coach GP Sharma, who saw her holding a big load on her head while helping her father in a field at Dadupur village (Harhua) in Varanasi in 2011.

“Her elder sister Shashi Yadav was one of my trainees at SAI’s weightlifting centre at the Guru Govind Singh Sports College here and once requested that I give Punam a chance because she was quite strong and energetic,” said Sharma. “When I saw her putting in a lot of effort in the field with her father, I immediately picked her for the STC scheme in Lucknow.”

Besides Shashi and Punam, their younger sister Pooja Yadav, a medallist at the Commonwealth Championship, too made it to the STC Centre here, but Sharma feels that Punam was the most impressive among the trio.

“She (Punam) has always been a good learner and I am sure she would bring home another medal from the Birmingham Games,” said Sharma, who coached Olympian Sonia Chanu and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Renu Bala Chanu.


    Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.

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