Commonwealth Games 2018: How the sacrifices of her family pushed Punam Yadav towards gold
Punam Yadav became the fourth athlete to win a gold medal for India at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, when she won in her weight category. Yadav was expected to deliver a medal for India going into the games after her Bronze medal at the Glasgow Games, four years earlier. Punam did not disappoint, lifting 100 Kg in Snatch and 122 Kg in Clean & Jerk to finish with a total of 222 Kg, 5 Kg ahead of England's Sarah Davies.
She won the Bronze medal in 63 Kg weight category at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She was just 18-years-old at that time. Yadav was also present in the 2017 and 2015 Commonwealth Championships, finishing 2nd and 1st respectively in those events. She also participated in Anaheim and Almaty World Championships.
Things could have been a lot different for Yadav, however, if not for the countless sacrifices made by her family.
Born in Varanasi, into a family of farmers, Yadav and her sisters dreamt of representing India in the sport of weightlifting. However, resources were scarce, as their father was the only source of income. When Punam's sisters saw her potential they chose to step aside from the sport so that Punam could realize a dream which they had all seen together.
Due to their poverty, the Yadav family were devoid of a simple stove to cook meals. Punam's younger sister Pooja was given the responsibility to find resources to get a fire on. Pooja decided to step away from weightlifting when she and her elder sister saw Punam perform brilliantly at lower level competitions.
Elder sister Shashi chose to step away from the sport in 2012, helping a then 16-year-old Punam for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Shashi made sure that Punam was never ill-prepared, giving Punam her share of milk and food. She gave Punam her own tracksuit and shoes so she could practice in the cold mornings of winter.
In 2014, the Yadav family did not even have enough money to buy sweets to celebrate Punam's Bronze medal in Glasgow.
Punam repaid her family's faith in her, winning Bronze in Glasgow. She also went on to win Gold and Bronze in 2017 and 2014 Commonwealth Championships. Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister at that point in time awarded Punam with a Rani Laxmi Bai award in 2014 for her performance in Glasgow.
Punam went up to the mat early in the morning of 8th April 2018 on the back of everything her family had done for her. And as India woke up, putting an abrupt end to their dreams, Punam was realizing one her family had together.
Winning the Gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in front of the world, Punam Yadav has justified the sacrifices her sisters made for her. She will return to her home and her family in the hope that she can continue to do so for herself and her sisters.