Seema Punia defies all odds, qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Seema Punia clears the Olympic cut
Seema Punia clears the Olympic cut
Aishwarya Kasibhatla

The warhorse of the Indian discus throw Seema Punia confirmed her berth at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020 on Tuesday. The 2018 Jakarta Open bronze medallist slogged past the Olympic qualification mark of 63.50m with a 63.72m throw at the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Patiala. Punia achieved the cut during her fourth attempt on the final day of the event.

Punia has become only the second discus thrower from India to book her candidature for the upcoming mega event, after Kamalpreet Kaur. Kaur cleared a distance of 66.59m at the 24th Federation Cup held in Patiala last week.

Seema Punia equals special Olympic record

With this year's qualification, the 2018 Commonwealth games silver medallist has equalled the record for most appearances at the Olympics, by an Indian woman. Seema Punia holds the record along with tennis star Sania Mirza and former sprinter Shiny Wilson. This will be the 37-year-old's fourth appearance at the Olympic Games.

Seema Punia to perform at her 4th Olympics
Seema Punia to perform at her 4th Olympics

Seema Punia urges AFI to conduct hyperandrogenism test on her fellow contender

But more than her record-breaking feat, it was her statement that has hogged media headlines. After qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Punia alleged that her rival's purported improvement in performance was an 'unusual' one.

Punia claimed that her competitor had shown a vast improvement (12 -15m) in her throw, over a very short period of time. The 37-year-old has urged the Athletics Federation of India to conduct a hyperandrogenism test on the athlete to ensure smooth conduct of the Olympics.

The identity of the athlete has been kept a secret to protect her privacy.

Seema Punia's performances at previous Olympics

Punia made her debut at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Even though she finished in the 14th position overall (covering a 60.64m distance with her throw), she failed to enter the final round by a narrow margin during her maiden appearance at the mega event. The 2012 London Olympics was a disappointment for her again, as she finished in 13th position in the standings with a 61.91m throw.

Punia's latest appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympics was the worst of the lot as she bowed out of the Summer Games with a 57.58m throw. She finished 20th in the table standings.

Punia will want to bow out on a high and after witnessing a fluctuating career with many ups and downs, she will look to leave a mark at this year's Tokyo Olympics.

Also read- List of Indian shooters who will enter the Tokyo Olympics 2020 ranked World No.1

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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