Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poonia accepts Samuels challenge but spurns January date

New Delhi:  Commonwealth Games gold medallist Krishna Poonia is game for the USD 20,000 winner-takes-all discus throw contest with world champion Dani Samuels of Australia but rejected January 22 date for the duel as she wants to spend time with her family after a gruelling season.

Poonia said she has been contacted by Samuels' representatives but has made it clear that she is ready for the contest in India next month before Asian Games which starts on November 12 or it will have to be after February next year.

Samuels' coach Hayden Knowles had proposed a January 22 contest between Poonia and the Australian world champion who had pulled out of the Commonwealth Games citing security and health concerns.

"I have accepted Dani's challenge and my federation has also given me permission. The two managers are discussing the date now. If Dani wants to come to India for the contest I am ready to take her in November before Asian Games. But I can't go abroad now as I am preparing for the Asian Games in Guangzhou," Poonia told reporters here.

"In January, I want to spend some time with my family. After January, I have no problem going to Australia for the contest. It can be anytime before World Championships (in August in South Korea)," she said.

Poonia's husband Virendra said she is ready to take on Samuels anytime between March and the World Championships in August if not next month.

"If she (Dani) does not come to India next month before the Asian Games it can be anytime between March and August. After the gruelling season Poonia wants to take rest at least a month or two. For now, she is concentrating on her preparations for the Asian Games," he said.

If the contest materialises, it would be the first of its kind high-stake duel involving an Indian athlete.

Hurt by the reported comments of Poonia that Samuels had pulled out of the Commonwealth Games due to "poor form", the support staff of the Australian had dared the Indian to the contest.

Knowles had proposed to hold the contest at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Center as part of Pirtek Athletic All Stars Meet which is considered as athletics counterpart of Twenty20 cricket with celebrities from Hollywood and sports world taking part.

Pirtek Athletic Allstars organisers will raise the USD 20,000 amount for the contest between Poonia and Samuels through sponsors.

Recently on September 15, world and Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt took part in men's 100m relay event in the Pirtek Athletic Allstars Meet.

In that Meet, Samuels won the discus throw event with a 61.90m effort to beat Olympic champion Stephanie Brown Trafton of United States and former world champion Beatrice Faumina of New Zealand, who finished fifth in Commonwealth Games.

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