Punam Yadav – A Weightlifter who lifted Gold in Commonwealth!
A 23-year-old Indian daughter Punam Yadav made the nation proud by winning the fifth medal for India. She secured the top position in the 69 kg weightlifting category for women in the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games 2018. Hailing from Dadupur village in Varanasi, Punam succeeded in adding another feather in the cap. She dominated in 69 kg category by lifting 100 kg in the snatch and 122 kg in clean-and-jerk, which was a total of (100+122) 222 kgs.
Her contribution in the Commonwealth games 2018 led India to finish in the top 3 nations with 26 gold medals in the tally. Punam has been an active weightlifter since her teenage days but life has been very cruel to her since, and yes it took a lot but eventually she succeeded in making the whole world perceive and adore her triumph.
"If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time." - Steve Jobs
Punam Yadav is one of three girls born to a farmer in Dadupur village of Varanasi. Her parents could not afford to provide a very hostile childhood for their daughters. At a very early age, Punam and sisters have realized that they have to build their careers and let the family out of this miserable life. The three sisters took the matter into their own hands as their frail parents could not take up any more responsibilities.
"Opportunities don't happen. You create them." - Chris Grosser
Punam and her sisters had to work part-time so that they can pay for their education fees and also to fulfill daily needs of the family. She joined Kashi Vidyapeeth University in Varanasi to attain primary education and this college also offered a platform for students to excel in sports stream. Punam began her weightlifting career here by attending various inter-college events and also started performing at the city level weightlifting competitions.
Hitting Rock bottom
When the girls grew up, it became very tough for the parents to provide them with any additional financial support since Punam wished to join a professional training center to improve herself. She also went asking for help from her relatives, but they all declined. Still, she was so adamant about her dreams that nothing could have stopped her from following the path of success.
"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." - Thomas Jefferson
Punam became invincible and was training herself very hard which caught an eye of a few of her mates and acquaintances who agreed to help her as they realize that she has the potential to become prosperous. Punam, then along with her elder sister Shashi and younger sister Pooja joined the S.I.E. training institute of weightlifting in Varanasi.
Punam did the best she could at the training institute and forged her way to the nationals. She not only herself advanced to the national level but also encouraged her sisters and other weightlifters in the institute to do so. Hard work and persistence paid off when she got selected for the 2014 Glasgow Games. This was the big break she very well deserved, but she could not afford to travel all the way to Glasgow. A father could fight with the world if it comes to the happiness of his child. Similarly, when her father came to know about this situation, without any second opinion, he sold their family buffalo. This was the complete leap of faith by a father for his daughter, and it helped in the travel arrangements for Punam. Her elder sister, Shashi withdrew herself from the training institute to save money for the accommodation of her baby sister in Glasgow.
"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." - John D. Rockefeller
Turning Dreams into Reality
Punam left for Glasgow with mixed emotions. On the one hand, she was excited about the upcoming challenges and on the other, she was dismayed by her family's sacrifice.
Failure was never an option for Punam and support of her family made her more determined.
Punam who was participating in her first ever international level competition did not disappoint and won a bronze medal for lifting a total of 202 kg in the women's 63 kg weight class. She was just behind the champion Olauwatoyin Adesanmi by 5 kg. This bronze medal had open various gates of success for her marked the beginning of many triumphs.
"Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better." - Jim Rohn
After that Punam never looked back and continued on her winning spree. She appeared in various events like Youth commonwealth 2015 and won gold in both junior and senior 63 kg categories. She also won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Championships in 2017. After the success in 63 kg women's category, Punam being well aware of her abilities, promoted herself to the next level of 69 kg.
2018 Commonwealth Games
The time came for which Punam was waiting for the past four years. It was the time to settle some old scores and achieve what just slipped past her hands four years ago. The last time it was immense family pressure, but this time Punam came prepared. She had one single objective - GOLD.
The 2018 Commonwealth games were held in Gold Coast, Queensland. Punam entered the tournament as focused as ever and conquest the 69 kg division with her breathtaking performance. Punam seemed like an unstoppable force dodging all the roadblocks and made her way to the finals.
"All progress takes place outside the comfort zone." - Michael John Bobak
This was it! The moment to create history and make amends to her previous performance.
Punam did what he does best. She successfully lifted a total of 222 kgs in the finals, 100 kg in the snatch and 122 kg in clean-and-jerk and by that she became the fifth Indian weightlifter to win gold at the Commonwealth games 2018. Her dominating performance also helped India to finish third in the points table.
Shortly after her triumph, Punam returned home victorious, as a warrior with pride. In her hometown, she was received very courteously following the Indian rituals with garlands and well wishes. When asked about how she feels to become an Indian Sports sensation, she winked and humbly credited her parents, coach, and the support of the Weightlifting Federation of India. She also added -
"I never hoped or dreamed of the gold, but it happened, with the guru's blessings."