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Seasoned discus thrower Seema by her side, rookie shot putter Kiran wins Asian Games medal
By Saurabh Duggal
When Seema Antil Punia competed in her first international championship, Kiran Baliyan was just one year old.
On Friday, Kiran, 24, ended the 72-year-old medal drought for India in the women’s shot put event at the Asian Games by clinching bronze in Hangzhou.
In the absence of her personal coach Robin Singh, who didn’t travel to China, four-time Olympian discus thrower Seema, at 40, the oldest athlete in the Indian contingent, was doubling up as a coach for the rookie shot putter.
“Since this was my first-ever international competition in the senior’s category, and it happened to be the Asian Games, I felt the pressure, and it was visible in my first throw too. I started with a bad throw of 15.42m. After the throw Seema didi called me and scolded me to keep my focus intact and not bother about the arena and the crowd. At the same time, she gave me a pep talk that the medal is within my reach, and I can do it,” says Kiran. “Had didi not called me after the first throw, I might have missed the medal,” adds Kiran, who is a sub-inspector in Rajasthan Police.
In the second throw, Kiran hit 16.84m, which was also good enough to get bronze. She threw 17.36m in her third throw and the remaining three were 16.76m, 16.79m and 16.87m.
“Seema didi is like an elder sister to me, and she has a fair idea that scolding was the best way to relieve me of pressure,” shares Kiran, whose father is a traffic constable with Meerut police.
Kiran started her career under coach Robin in Meerut. As he was not part of the national coaching camp, Robin couldn’t accompany Kiran to the Games.
“Asian Games is Kiran’s first big exposure, and considering her nature, she needed to be monitored during the event. But we are lucky that Seema didi was there to help her out. She (Seema) is a legend, and for this medal, we will always be indebted to her,” says Kiran’s coach, Robin..