Champ Dani’s $20k challenge to Poonia


JAIPUR: She pulled out of the Commonwealth Games but now she’s seething for a showdown. In a challenge straight out of the Wild West, Australian discus world champ Dani Samuels has demanded a duel with Krishna Poonia, who led a historic Indian 1-2-3 sweep of the event at the Games.

The prize is $20,000, and the winner takes it all. But Samuels is unwilling to face Poonia on her home ground and wants the face-off to be held in Australia.

“A sponsor has offered $20,000 winner-takes-all, making it the biggest cash prize for a discus event in the world. The Diamond League offers $10,000 prize money, well we have doubled that to give Poonia her shot at the champ,” Samuels’ coach Denis Knowles was quoted as saying by the Australian media.

Poonia is ready to take up any challenge, but only if it is before December. “It has been a gruelling year,” Krishna’s husband Virender Poonia told TOI on Monday. “She would be resting after December. So, if Dani has any challenges in mind, it had better be before that, and at a neutral venue.”

Poonia is ready for the face-off with Samuels but is yet to get any communication from the other side. “We have neither received a phone call nor a mail from anyone associated with Dani regarding this challenge,” said Virender, who accompanied his wife to Patiala on Monday for a training camp. “We can only commit after we are told about the date.”

He added that Krishna would under no circumstance compromise on her Asian Games participation for this challenge. “We will go for the gold there (Guangzhou),” Virender said. “If Dani wants Krishna to compete with her during the Asian Games, our answer is no.”

Samuels had pulled out of the Delhi Games at the last minute, and the media reports said the Australian champ is apparently hurt at Krishna’s statement that “Dani did not compete in the Commonwealth Games due to poor form”.

“Krishna had never said that,” Virender clarified. “She just said that so many athletes are coming to Delhi and there is no reason to be afraid.” He added that the Australians are unnecessarily making an issue out of nothing. “They have this habit.”

Virender is also unhappy with the fact that the Samuels camp wants this challenge to be held in Australia. “That will definitely give them an advantage.”

Krishna threw her personal best of 63.69m in April this year. Samuels has thrown over that distance four times this year, with a personal best of 65.84m in February. The Australian, however, has not been in very good form recently. “Look at her performance in the Continental Cup (held in Split in September) and you will know that Krishna has been a better thrower in recent times,” Virender said. Samuels’ best throw in Split was 61.43m, as against Krishna’s Commonwealth Games gold-winning throw of 61.51m in New Delhi.

Krishna had beaten Samuels in a competition in California in 2008. At the Melbourne Games in 2006, Samuels got the bronze behind India’s Seema Antil. “She is definitely not unbeatable,” Virender said. “Krishna would be glad to accept the challenge.”
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This post was submitted by Remya.

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