July 14, 2010
Having been spurned by India, teenage shot putter Prabhjot Rai is thrilled to be representing Australia at next month’s inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Rai was named in the 100-strong team on Wednesday for the August 14-26 Games, where Australia will be represented in 20 of the 26 sports on the 2012 London Olympics program.
After enduring a tough couple of years, Rai had toyed with changing allegiance to India, where both of her parents were born.
“I had a stage when my performance didn’t increase at all,” said Rai, who claimed the national junior title earlier this year.
“For two years it stayed where it was, but my parents still kept on taking me to training and everything.”
The 17-year-old trialled with the Indian team and although she had no trouble making the grade, the Indian authorities weren’t interested in accepting her.
“I thought I couldn’t play for Australia, and that’s why I went to India because their standards are low,” Rai said.
“I was the best in the whole of India and they still didn’t give me a chance. They were like ‘drop your citizenship, drop your passport, become Indian and get an Indian passport and everything’.
“I came back here and that was the thing that made me improve. I wanted to do something because of my treatment over there.”
After Singapore, Rai’s next major target is the 2012 world junior championships.
“My personal best is 14.10m – that was more than a year back, in June, so I should be improving because I have a lot of power now. My technique has got better and I’m hoping for a medal,” Rai said.
The Australian Youth Olympic team’s chef de mission, Olympic rowing gold medallist Nick Green, is hopeful of a high finish on the medals table in Singapore.
“This is a wonderful initiative developed by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) back in 2007. The Australian Olympic Committee can claim the brainchild behind getting this momentum going,” Green said.
“It is an Olympic games replicating that of the Summer Olympic Games.
“We’ve sent quite a large team and we hope to be one of the largest teams to compete in Singapore but also one of the most successful.”
© 2010 AAP