A medal-less campaign for the first time in five straight Commonwealth Games appearances since 2006, veteran discus thrower Seema Punia on Wednesday admitted that the Birmingham edition will be her last CWG but insisted that her career is not yet over.
The 39-year-old Punia, the most decorated track and field athlete in the Commonwealth Games, will return home empty-handed for the first time since her silver medal-winning feat in the 2006 edition in Melbourne as she finished fifth here on Tuesday night.
She could only produce a best throw of 55.92m which she came up in her second attempt but that was not enough for a podium finish.
“This will be my last CWG but I’m not done yet, who knows I’ll be there at the Paris Olympics,” Punia told PTI.
“The day I don’t get my best in training, it would be my last. I don’t chase after Games, I’m strong so I’m here.
“I think I can throw well at the Asian Games (next year). I’m very confident of a medal there. And, if I get to 63-64m mark, I can also make the Olympics (Paris).”
She said she has no regrets of having missed out on a medal in her last CWG here.
“No regrets… This was my fifth CWG which itself is a big achievement although there is no medal this time but I’m happy,” she said.
“You win some, you lose some. Just imagine for how long you have been training and giving all your effort in a power sport like discus throw.”
Punia has won three silver — 2006, 2014, 2018 — and one bronze — 2010 — from her earlier four appearances in the CWG.
“I cherish all my medals, even the ones I won at the district level. It doesn’t matter at what level, but it takes a lot to win a medal,” said Punia, who also has won a gold and a silver in the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games respectively.
Punia claimed that she successfully battled a hip joint injury in her bid to compete in her fifth straight CWG.
“The doctor had told me it’s all over for me and you cannot do a power sport like this with a hip injury. But to make a comeback and compete at this level was a big thing for me.
“It’s a very serious injury. It’s the most crucial part of a discus thrower as it bears most of the impact. I had to take three injections and one year to rehab. I started training only in September without any coach as I knew I would need one only after I recovered,” she said.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Seema who was stripped of her 2000 World Junior Championships gold medal after testing positive for a banned drug. But she returned to win a bronze in the 2002 World Junior Championships and four years later bagged a silver at her debut CWG.
Fighting injury, she won a bronze at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, which she termed as the “turning point” in her career.
“That was my second medal (in CWG) and a turning point that I’m still standing there.”