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September 30, 2000
Malleshwari has reasons for wanting to quit
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
Nothing left to achieve; It's time to quit; I'm going for sure; I'm thinking about it; But I'm still among the best; What's the hurry; The decision isn't final.
Karnam Malleshwari has begun contradicting herself every time she opens her mouth. The first Indian woman to bag an Olympic Games medal, she is struggling to make up her mind about quitting now that her ambition had been fulfilled.
"I've won everything and there are no more challenges left," Malleshwari said after her nerves stood the critical test in the Olympic arena to clinch a bronze medal -- India's only medal at the Sydney Olympics and the first by a woman sportsperson.
But now she seems to have been persuaded not to call it a day. Seems like coach Leonoid Tarnenka -- who earlier too said Malleshwari had many years of weightlifting left in her -- has played a big role in bringing about a change in her earlier steadfast decision on this medal being the end of the road.
"Why should she quit ... she's still one of the best in the world," says Tarnenko. "I don't think this medal should make her decide on giving up the sport."
Malleshwari has her reasons for wanting to go.
"Homesickness was the reason... I was missing my family. My husband has been a big source of inspiration, but moving from one training camp to another I had not met my parents for two years," she says.
"When I was leaving Delhi to take part in the Olympics, my mother came from Hyderabad to see me off. At the airport she (the mother) started crying," says Malleshwari. "I had not met my mother and father for two years.
"My sister too came from her place to wish me good luck. I'd decided then that this would be my last competition," says the winner of multiple World Championships gold medals.
"I'd decided to quit but my coach kept reminding me 'why are you retiring'. He would say, 'You are still the best. Win the gold and then retire.'
Malleshwari still seems undecided. She needs time to take this critical decision. If she decides to give up the sport, which made her a household name in a nation starved of sporting glory, it would only be after returning home.
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