'We expected medals'

Athletes bask in glory after stupendous Asiad show

“We always went in expecting a medal. Maybe not a gold, but definitely a medal,” Joseph Abraham, gold medallist in the men’s 400M hurdles, said on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony for the medallists organised by Sports Authority of India here on Monday .

“I started feeling really good about the competition after I went there, and trained for five days. Then I ran the heats and did very well, and I was aware that I was at the peak of my fitness. I realised that there was a gold for the taking and I’m really glad I could come through.

“Now, I can’t wait to go back home to Kerala and celebrate because the party there will be something else,” he added, with a big smile. Preeja Sreedharan, gold medallist in the 10000M and winner of the silver in the 5000M, echoed the sentiment.

“We worked so hard that we and especially our coach (Nikolai Snesarev) would have been extremely disappointed if we hadn’t done well. I’m glad we did everyone proud.” Preeja admitted that the enormity of what she had achieved did not sink in till she actually reached home.

“When I won the gold, I did not feel too much at that point. Then on the victory stand, I started feeling a bit emotional. But the real emotions did not hit me until I reached India and saw how the public greeted us and everybody here applauded our effort. That is when I realised what I had done and it made me feel really proud.

“Now I am going to take a small break and then it is London calling,” she added, referring to the London Olympics in 2012. Sudha Singh, winner of the 3000M steeplechase, admitted that the gold was beyond her wildest dreams and she was ecstatic about winning the medal. “I did not expect to win the gold. When I won, I could not really believe it.

“I’m just happy that I could make our country proud. The training stint at SAI here helped me a lot. I have been training here for one year and this helped me towards winning the gold.”

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