Poonia-Dani discus duel ‘could be like boxing bout’

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SYDNEY - Discus champ Dani Samuels’ challenge to Commonwealth Games gold medallist Krishna Poonia from India to a winner-takes-all contest “could be enormous”, said the Australian’s manager who added that “it could be like a boxing match”.

Samuels threw the challenge following Poonia’s pre-Games comment that the Australian’s “poor form” was the actual reason the world champion did not compete at New Delhi.

While Samuels said that her concerns about health and safety were behind her decision to withdraw, Poonia told the media that the Australian hadn’t performed well during the European summer.

Poonia’s throw of 61.51 metres made her the first Indian track-and-field athlete to win a Commonwealth gold medal in over 50 years.

“It could be enormous,” Sydney Morning Herald quoted Samuels’s manager, Hayden Knowles, as saying.

“It could be like a boxing match. The Indian girl started it in the press, the Australian wants quality competition. The great thing is there’s no need to generate hype, it’s there and it’s real.”

“A sponsor has offered $20,000 winner-takes-all, making it the biggest cash prize for a discus event in the world. The prestigious Diamond League offers $10,000 prizemoney, well we’ve doubled that to give Poonia her shot at the champ.”

The manager said Samuels doesn’t regret her decision to withdraw from the Games.

“However, Poonia heated things up by basically bagging Dani to a billion Indians,” Knowles said.

“Dani has said nothing to suggest she disrespects the Indian girl, indeed she’s maintaining the same integrity, honesty and grace she displayed when she announced the tough decision to not compete in the Commonwealth Games,” Knowles said.

He went on to say that “while Poonia would be guaranteed the same star treatment Usain Bolt enjoyed while he was here for us at last month’s All Stars, Poonia’s comments offended a sponsor to the extent he’s offered big money to bring her here”.

Sydney Olympic Park’s world-class athletic centre would host the event and Knowles said that he would appoint an agent to secure Indian television coverage of the duel.

Filed under: Boxing, Commonwealth Games

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