New Delhi, Oct 12 : After giving the country a gold in women's 4x400m relay, team member Ashwini Akkunji today said they were under pressure to finish first in the Commonwealth Games in front of home crowd as India had bagged a silver in Melbourne four years ago.
Ashwini said the team and the coach were clear in their minds from a long time that India will have to either win a gold or a silver and they have worked very hard to achieve the feat.
"The Indian team finished second in Melbourne and if we did not win a gold or a silver we would have been very disappointed. Doing better than Melbourne had been our focus since long back. We worked very hard in the camps. The federation has also given all the facilities and sent us for training abroad," Ashwini told a press conference.
"The crowd support gave us extra motivation but at the same time it also gave us some pressure. Had we not won gold or silver it would have been really disappointing for the crowd," she added. She said what was satisfying was that India had beaten top athletics countries like Australia and England to win gold.
"It is very satisfying that we had beaten teams like Australia and England who are among top athletic countries. This is the best moment of my career," said Ashwini, who took the team to the lead in the third leg. She said the two training stints at Ukraine had greatly helped the team.
"We were in Ukraine two times, one from May 28 to July 27 and then we went there again just before the Games started. I think that foreign training has paid dividends. The Athletics Federation of India gave us all the support," she said. Ashwini said the team would be aiming for gold in next month's Asian Games but warned against complacency.
"We should not be complacent and take our rivals lightly. We want to take the momentum from here and win gold in Asian Games. I think China and Tajikistan will be our main rivals. The Chinese will prepare well as Asian Games are being held at home. So we have to be fully prepared," she said. Coach R S Sidhu said that winning gold was a progression from the Medlbourne silver and the girls deserved it as they have really worked hard.
"They had really worked hard and this has been a nice progression from the Melbourne silver. We have achieved our goal," she said.
Manjeet Kaur and Mandeep Kaur ran today instead of Juana Murmu and Chitra Soman, who were in the semifinal race, and Sidhu said it was a strategy to give rest to better timing runners.
"We rested Manjeet and Mandeep Kaur who had better timings in the semifinals so that they are fresh in the final today. It was a strategy as the Cameroonians are very strong who had won medals in 400m and 400m hurdles. Our strategy worked," he said. PTI