Tara Devi Pun: The spiker who is set to retire as undisputed weightlifting starWeightlifter Tara Devi Pun is a National Games veteran. In the twilight of 22 years of a successful domestic career, Pun never knew how it feels to become second.
Weightlifter Tara Devi Pun is a National Games veteran. In the twilight of 22 years of a successful domestic career, Pun never knew how it feels to become second. The 35-year old has been an undisputed champion winning eight consecutive strongest woman crowns, a title which she now sees slipping out of her grasp due to injury.
“I can win gold but I don’t think I can push enough to become the strongest woman again. I am ageing and this injury won’t let me be what I used to be,” the Nepal Police Club lifter Pun said at Nagar Bhawan, the venue for the eighth National Games weightlifting.
Pun’s desire to claim an international gold was fulfilled after she won the 2012 first South Asian Weightlifting Championship, also held in Nepalgunj. That gold medal triumph gave her more hunger to rule the region and with the aspirations of claiming the top spot, she left for Guwahati, India to win the 12th South Asian Games gold. But she ended up claiming bronze.
Pun has enjoyed a successful weightlifting journey but very less are aware about the fact that her playing career began as a volleyball player in which she claim her first domestic gold. She was not even 16 when she was brought to Nepalgunj for the fourth National Games from Western Development Region team.
“It was a terrible journey,” recalled Pun who was not used to travelling in a bus as her remote village in Myagdi was hardly accessible. “I felt very dizzy when the bus began its journey and at one point, I collapsed. When I recovered, I was injected a saline,” said Pun who played in a position of lifter and was instrumental in handing her region the National Games gold.
Her fine performance as the best lifter of the Games earned her a call up for the eighth South Asian Games which Kathmandu was hosting in 1999. But she literally missed out to join the team on time. “Our house is in the very remote area of Myagdi that didn’t even have a telephone connection. When I received a letter that informed my inclusion in the national team, the South Asian Games had already begun,” Pun told about the only instance of her career when she was left utterly dejected.
But not being able to make into the national volleyball team became a turning point of her career. She came to Kathmandu to compete in the fifth National Games, also as a volleyball player, but destiny had other plans for her. The fifth edition was scheduled for June 2, 2001 but it was indefinitely postponed because a night before Nepal went into a standstill because of the Royal massacre.
“Missing out on the South Asian Games and postponement of National Games actually worked in my favour. One of the seniors in Nepali taekwondo, Pramila Thapa, convinced me to join weightlifting and my career took a 360 degree after that,” Pun added. In 2009, Pun made her major appearance and began with the gold and since then she hardly looked back. She went on to claim two more gold medals in consecutive editions and will now be gunning for her fifth title—fourth as a weightlifter. Pun is under a lengthy medication due to a knee injury but remains as confident as ever to beat the odds because she knows this will be her last act in domestic weightlifting.
“I tremble even by the thinking that I am retiring. It’s a word that an athlete never wants to hear throughout the career. But I want to make it memorable. I will pull the curtains down at home with another gold,” she said hinting she would have a go at the impending 13th South Asian Games which Nepal is hosting from December 1-9 this year.
Such has been her dedication to the game that she hardly had any time to think about marriage. She has been often asked about her marriage plans and to everyone she would reply ‘soon’. “That ‘soon’ never came in the last 12 years,” Pun relied.
“But there is another question added to the list and its about my retirement. But I have a plan now which will answer both the queries. I will first win a gold (in the upcoming South Asian Games) and then get married,” said Pun. Asked what if she fails to land gold, she quipped: “I will not retire then.” Her reply was followed by a burst of laughter.