Punam Yadav, who came close to giving up her sport as she was unable to take on the trials and tribulations that Indian sport heaps on its young hopefuls, will have her granduncle to thank for the bronze medal she earned in the 63kg weight category late on Sunday. The bronze medal was the seventh medal for the weightlifting contingent and the 20th medal overall for the Indian contingent.
Punam, who turned 19 earlier this month and graduated to the senior section only after that, finished third behind the Nigerian duo of Oluwatoyin Adesanmi and Oblome Okoli who were way ahead in terms of their efforts.
Adesanmi (92 + 115) and Okoli (90 + 117) were tied at 207 but the former won the gold on lighter bodyweight, while Punam lifted 88 in snatch and then managed 114 in clean and jerk for a total of 202, which was her personal best, better than the 201 she managed in Thailand while winning her first international medal at the Asian Junior championships earlier this year.
"This is my biggest medal and I am so happy with it that I can't express in words," said Punam.
Hailing from a very modest family, which found difficult to make two ends meet, Punam's medals in Thailand will help her find a job and ensure a better life for her family.
Trained by GP Sharma, Punam comes from village Chandmari, close to Varanasi. She came into the sport, courtesy her elder sister, Shashi Yadav. Her first training centre was the SAI Centre in Lucknow.
In 2013 she came close to giving up the sport when was not allowed to participate in the Junior Nationals in Guwahati, where she was asked to appear for a dope test. Yet, she was denied participation.
Her uncle encouraged her not to give up the sport and forced her to get back to it. The coaches saw the potential, which was fulfilled to some extent at the Asian Juniors and the bronze medal in Commonwealth Games should add lustre to her growing career.
India's seven medals from weightlifting are as follows:
Gold: Sanjita Khumukcham (women's 48kg) and Sukhin Dey (men's 56kg)
Silver: Mirabai Saikhom (women's 48kg)
Bronze: Ganesh Mali (men's 56kg); Omkar Otari (men's 69kg); Santoshi Matsa (women's 53kg) and Punam Yadav (women's 63kg)