The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heptathlon silver more precious than gold: Soma

Busan: The heptathlon gold had eluded her narrowly. The second time around, Soma Biswas made sure the precious medal was not missed.

Victory in the 4x400m women’s relay — with Jincy Philips, Manjeet Kaur and K. Beenamol — couldn’t have been sweeter for the Ranaghat girl. “It’s a nice way to celebrate maha-ashtami in a foreign land,” said Soma, the relief on her face camouflaging the joy.

She was under a lot of pressure having come through selection trials to earn a berth in the relay team. “I was not the first choice and had to run a trial race to get selected before K. Manjima and Geetha Satti. I wouldn’t have been spared if I did badly,” said Soma.

“Also, this was the first time that the four of us were running together. In Colombo, we had a second-string team and I was the only one here fromthat quartet.” Soma said of the ATF gold-winning effort last month.

Still, the 23-year-old rates her heptathlon silver higher than the relay gold. “Heptathlon is much tougher. Firstly it’s an individual effort and there are seven different events. I would have been happier with the gold, but I don’t think silver is bad at all.”

Kuntal Roy, her personal coach, was delighted with the way Soma ran on Sunday. “She did the 400 in under 52 seconds which she has never done before. This Asian Games could be a turning point in her career, she should go a long way from here.”

If Soma wasn’t showing too much emotion, one reason was that friend Saraswati Saha had missed out on a second medal. The sprinter took a brave decision to run the 4x100 relay despite a pain the lower back region. “I wasn’t 100 per cent but still took a chance hoping that a medal will come. But unfortunately things didn’t go our way,” Saraswati said.

The biggest lesson she has learnt from this trip is to bring her personal coach along. “I wanted Amit (Saha) to come here at own cost but he was refused permission to stay in the Athletes’ Village. In future, I’ll make sure he is with me at all big meets. If you have noticed, all athletes who had their personal coaches here did exceedingly well,” Saraswati observed.

Saraswati’s frustration notwithstanding, this has been an outstanding Games for the Bengal duo. Two gold medals and a silver is a rich Puja gift to the sport-crazy state from Soma and Saraswati.

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