How Seema Punia overcame tough times in Russia in quest for another medal


Over the previous yr, four-time Commonwealth Games medal-winning discus thrower Seema Punia has been by way of hell and again. The 37-year-old, who trains in Russia, examined constructive for Covid, spent lengthy hours in solitude and fought psychological battles. But she by no means gave up although she was in a international land. The Haryana born athlete says she took solace in yoga, meditation and Osho’s philosophy to drag by way of testing times.

“It can get very lonely and hard over there but I am searching for something greater. Language is a huge issue but I can understand now. I have picked up enough that I can move around the city without a translator. If you have to prove something you have to stay away from here and dirty politics,” says Seema.

Seema was in India earlier this month for the Federation Cup, her first competitors in the nation in over two years. She was favorite to bag the gold till Punjab’s Kamalpreet produced a record-breaking throw in extra of 65metres. Seema, though upset, accepted the second spot gracefully. The athlete feels it was an honest try, contemplating she was coming from a chilly area like Krasnodar (southwestern Russia), one in every of her three coaching bases.

“I am coming from a region where it is extremely cold so I consider my throw (62.64m) nothing less than a 65m throw,” she says.

India’s Seema Punia competes in the ladies’s discus throw remaining at Carrara Stadium throughout the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

‘I couldn’t breathe’

It was round April final yr when the tall and well-built athlete was introduced all the way down to her knees by the coronavirus. Dizziness and a fever of 103 Fahrenheit have been telling indicators.

“I felt like my head was spinning and had a severe fever. I asked my trainer not to come to my room. It was a dreadful feeling. Like going through hell. Then health professionals arrived to take blood samples. The test proved I was positive,” the athlete remembers.

Getting again in form felt like a herculean activity for the athlete, who used to coach a minimal of six hours a day earlier than the virus hit her. “I would be left breathless after climbing a flight of stairs and there was this constant headache. Things eased slowly and I would have been really happy had I qualified for the Olympic Games here,” says Seema, a two-time Olympian who has a mixed tally of six medals in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

Despite the struggles, Seema feels meditation and spirituality helped in the therapeutic course of. “I read a lot of books on Osho and spirituality. I am a huge follower of Osho and hear his sermons regularly. It brings me a lot of peace and tranquillity which helped me get through these testing times,” she says.

Seema’s choice to start out coaching in Russia again in 2016 had raised eyebrows due to the doping file of athletes from the nation. Seema at present trains at three centres in Sochi, Maykop and Krasnodar beneath coach Vitaliy Pishchalnikov, a former thrower. Seema additionally works carefully with physio and health coach Bella who travelled to Patiala for the Federation Cup.

“We have spent a lot of time together and she is like a sister to me. Since I am a local, I help her with anything she needs. Our way of having fun is ensuring good recovery and eating well. Seema is very hardworking and we train 24X7. No holidays and no alcohol. Never,” says Bella, who was seen interacting with the Indian athlete in Russian.

Seema can also be a lot leaner and fitter due to modifications in her consuming habits. Red meat and a number of veggies are what she survives on. “No sugar, almost zero carbs. I have developed a gluten allergy so no bread as well. At this age I need to be very careful of what I consume,” says Seema.

seema ppunia discus throw Seema Punia throughout the Athletics Championships in Patiala. (PTI Photo)

‘Society needs to change’

Although Seema has been away from residence for a very long time now, she isn’t homesick. “I had a marriage which ended. We separated in 2016-17, and now there isn’t much left to think about or miss about India,” she says.

“Giving up is not a choice. You have been given this one life, and you have to make the most of it. I want to be a beacon of hope for other women. There are so many oppressed women in our society. If you go to the interiors of Haryana you will see the plight of women. Now all I think about is throwing better.”


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