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September 21, 2000
Malleshwari to retireJaideep Singh in Sydney
The Olympic Games bronze medal marks the end of the road for Karnam Malleshwari, who became the first South Asian woman to win a medal in Olympic history.
Malleshwari, on Wednesday, said she will call it a day as there is no challenge left for her, and added that she is looking forward to start an academy to train weightlifters.
"I don't see any challenge left for me, and I'm planning to retire after returning home," Malleshwari said in her post-medal press conference.
"I've won medals in the World championships, Asian Games, Asian championships and now the Olympic Games -- that seems the end of the road," she said, admitting that she did not know that she was the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal until she was told, after the event.
"I knew India wasn't getting many medals -- but I never realised that no woman had won an Olympic medal before," said the beaming Malleshwari, who was requested by the Indian media to show them the medal, but refused with a smile.
A day after winning the medal, Malleshwari was still seething with anger at journalists who had termed her unfit for Olympic competition.
"People were saying a lot of things about me -- that I eat this and drink that, that I was unfit and wasn’t competing in the correct weight," she said.
"I increased my weight because I was confident of being able to lift much more, and that's why I came and competed in the 69kg category.
"I think I've been able to give a fitting reply to my critics."
Malleshwari said she received a call from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Tuesday morning.
"The Prime Minister called first thing in the morning and congratulated me," she said. "My family also rang and they want me to return soon so that they can celebrate with with me..but I don't know when I can go back."
Twenty-four hours after her bronze-winning performances, she was being swamped for interviews, to the bemusement of administrative staff at the Athletes' Village, who had seen gold medallists from other countries go almost unacknowledged.
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