New Delhi: Weightlifter Poonam Yadav brought glory to India when on Friday, she lifted 122 kg in the Clean and Jerk category and won a gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
With Yadav’s win, her family in Varanasi is elated. Their faith in her hardwork was vindicated. Yadav started weightlifting in 2011 and her road to the gold medal was paved with financial strain and, at times, even hunger. When Poonam got the chance to represent her country on the world stage and it came to sending her abroad, her parents had to sell the family buffalo to arrange the funds.
“Many times, she (Poonam) had to go hungry because of her training. People used to taunt us when our girl went out to play. Today, those same people greet us with respect. When Poonam won a medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, I didn’t even have enough money to distribute sweets,” said Urmila Yadav, Poonma’s mother.
Her father Kailash Yadav said Poonam’s inspiration to play the sport came from weightlifter Karnman Malleswari, who became the first Indian woman to win an individual Olympic medal (bronze) in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“When Karnman Malleswari won the Bronze medal for the country, I wanted my daughter to win a medal for her country too. She started training in 2011. She was so good, she would manage to find time for household chores and farm work in addition to her training. Since we are a poor family, we couldn’t even give her the proper diet she needed. Her Guru, Swami Agdanand, sent her to social worker Satish Fauji, who helped her with finances. She started receiving Rs. 20,000 a month to spend on her training.”
He added, “She was ready to be an international weightlifter, but we still didn’t have enough funds. When we had to arrange funds to send her to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, we had to sell the family buffalo. We even had to borrow money from some friends and family. Today, Poonam has repaid all those debts on her own and even built her own house.”
A recent graduate, Yadav works as a senior Ticket Collector in the Railways and has been posted at Varanasi Cantt. Railway Station.
She has two brothers and four sisters. Her brothers, Ashutosh and Abhishek, are national-level hockey players. In 2014, she won bronze in the 63 kg category at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She bettered her performance at the 2015 Pune Commonwealth Championship and won a gold in the same category. In the 2017 Commonwealth Championship, she won a silver in the 69 kg category.