Winning an Olympic medal is my ultimate aim, reveals Pooja Dhanda
Recent Arjuna award recipient Pooja Dhanda has revealed that her ultimate aim is to win an Olympic medal for India in the near future. The talented Indian wrestler thanked her coaches and WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for helping her win the prestigious national award.
Pooja Dhanda came to prominence after she grabbed silver in the women's 57 kg freestyle wrestling after losing to Nigeria's Odunayo Adekuoroye 7-5 in the final of last year's Gold Coast CWG at the Carrara Sports Arena. She has been an ever-present figure in the Indian wrestling circle and is touted to pull off a surprise and bag a medal at next year's Tokyo Olympic Games.
Dhanda, who hails from Gudana in Hisar, Haryana, added that her main focus at the moment is doing the unthinkable and winning a medal at next the quadrennial showpiece in 2020 after being conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award.
"I am in Lucknow right now for a National camp. I was training and my coach shouted '..Pooja.. tera naam nominate ho gya hai Arjuna Award ke liye' (Pooja, your name has been recommended for the Arjuna Award). I was so happy and elated when I heard the news. It was a big thing for me. I wanted to tell my parents but waited to confirm it properly.
"Five minutes later, I got a congratulatory message from Bajrang (Punia) about my Arjuna Award recommendation. He had sent me the list of the awardees. I immediately called my parents and asked for their blessings. It is a big achievement for me. Now, there will be more responsibilities on my shoulders and the country will expect a lot more from me when I hit the mat. I promise I won't disappoint them. Winning an Olympic medal is my ultimate aim," Pooja said in an interview with TOI.
Pooja, who earlier won silver at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics, reserved special credit to former coaches and WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh who played an important role in her development as one of the leading wrestlers in India.
"It feels really great when my coaches call me Arjuna awardee Pooja. I never imagined I would experience something like this in my life. I am thankful to God, my parents and my coaches who have done everything to make this possible. I have learnt a lot from my coaches Kripa Shankar sir and Kuldeep sir. Kripa sir taught me movement, motion and the technique of wrestling. The best thing I have learnt from him is how to read the body language of an opponent.
"I would also like to give credit to WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. He has played a big role in my comeback. He showed confidence in me and gave me the chance to compete in the Pro Wrestling League season 2," Pooja added.