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Krishna Poonia milked buffalos at dad's farm to stay fit

TEAM WORK: Krishna with husband and coach Virender Poonia

Krishna Poonia’s story is an inspiration for all of Haryana’s women... and men.

The story of Haryana’s Olympians is one of struggle, adversity and, mostly, escape from poverty. Ajay Sura visits the homes of some heroes and discovers some tales of courage and hope.

When she hurls the discus a good distance, it is hard to imagine that Krishna Punia once milked buffaloes at her father's dairy in their village Agroha (Hisar), as part of her training regimen. Today, that struggle has paid off with the six-feettall Krishna becoming the hope for all Haryanvi women with her presence at the London Olympics.

Fifteen years ago, buffalos proved the substitute to modern fitness equipment as Krishna attempted to up her fitness levels to become the country's top discus thrower.

Father Maha Singh, 65, says Krishna started her sports career only after she joined college at Hisar. Earlier, she never participated in any sports event. He, however, added that she was very particular about her fitness and used to exercise with a skipping rope when she found time after household work and milking buffalos in Agroha.

When asked about her favorite exercise, Singh reveals how she enjoyed milking buffaloes as it was an unconventional but good exercise to strengthen her arms and improve muscle power. "At that time we never thought that one day she would become an international athlete, it was all because of her zeal to keep herself fit, " he says.

Like most girls from rural Haryana, Krishna learnt household work early and regularly chipped in with it. Having lost her mother early, she was raised in a joint family by her grandmother, aunts etc.

Maha Singh remembers how her success started only when she broke a 48-year-old record at Kurukshetra University. Noticed, she was then selected for the Naational camp and hasn't looked back since. Singh also credits her husband and national level athlete Virender Punia of Rajasthan for Krishna's success. Virender continued to inspire her even after their marriage in 1999.

Today, Maha Singh enjoys a contended life. Sitting alone in his well-furnished home in the village on the Delhi-Fazilka national highway, the father has installed a small LCD TV in the hope of watching his daughter win a medal in London.

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