Krishna Poonia is the golden girl of Indian athletics. The 33-year-old discus thrower, the first Indian woman to strike gold at the Commonwealth Games, is now being feted everywhere; huge cash awards are flowing in too.
And there is a very interesting ‘revenge match' coming up. Australian Dani Samuels, the World champion who pulled out of the Delhi Games on health and security grounds, has challenged the Indian to a tempting winner-takes-all contest.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that the match between Samuels and Poonia would be held at the Sydney Olympic Park shortly. “A sponsor has offered $20,000 winner-takes-all, making it the biggest cash prize for a discus event in the world,” the Australian newspaper said, quoting Denis Knowles, Samuels' coach.
“Why not? We are ready for it,” Virendar Poonia, the Indian thrower's husband and coach, said on Sunday. “But we've not heard about it so far.”
Virendar also spoke about his wife's immediate plans.
“Our first target now is the Asian Games next month (in Guangzhou, China). We have a couple of Chinese who are very strong. Once that is over, we will be ready for Samuels. But first we have to discuss it with the Indian athletics federation.”
Poonia's comments prior to the Games, that Samuels' poor form had been the reason for her pullout, seem to have triggered the idea of a contest.
Samuels' manager Hayden Knowles has said the contest could be something like a boxing match.
Discus throwers are rarely in the spotlight but the contest between Poonia (personal best 63.69m, April 2010), who won the country's first individual gold in 52 years, and Samuels (PB 65.84, February 2010) would be tailor-made for the Indian television.