The taste of stardom is something. That is what the women wrestlers of the country have realized after winning three Commonwealth Games gold medals in front of the home crowd.
“Before this, I have won the World championship medal (in 2006), Doha Asian Games medal and succeeded in Asian championship.
“But the publicity I have received this time is unprecedented,” said Alka, who became the 59kg champion by beating two-time Olympic medallist Tonya Verbeek, in an interaction with mediapersons here on Saturday.
“There was bigger satisfaction this time as I was performing at home in front of large number of supporters,” she said.
Agrees 67kg winner Anita, whose only claim to fame so far was the Asian championship bronze in 2008. “People did not know much about us before. Now, they acknowledge our effort. Even people in my village (Ranimau in Haryana) are delighted with my showing. This is the highest achievement in my career,” she said.
Other than fame, these down-to-earth grapplers have earned a lot in terms of experience and confidence.
“The experience definitely was quite enriching. After beating top class wrestlers from Canada and Nigeria, we feel we can do it the biggest stage more often.
“I can say this has strengthened our confidence,” said Alka as Geeta, the 55kg gold medallist, nodded in agreement.
Geeta faced one of the toughest bouts of her life when she fought back to beat Nigerian Lovina Edward and make the final. “That was the most difficult bout for me. But I never lost hope and after winning that I was all the more confident of getting the gold medal,” she said.
The visit to the podium has been very regular for the Indian women at Asian and Commonwealth level competitions. After the impressive showing in the Games, the next logical target is to win medals at the Olympics and World championships.
Coach P.R. Sondhi was hopeful that this objective would also be achieved in due process. “The regularity in winning medals at Olympic and World championship will come slowly.
“That happened in men's wrestling after Sushil Kumar's bronze in Beijing Olympics,” he said.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games