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MR Poovamma Qualifies For Paris Olympic at 34 After 2-year Ban

MR Poovamma, the senior-most member of the Indian women's 4x400m relay team that qualified for the Paris Olympics on Monday in the Bahamas, said making a comeback at the age of 34 after a two-year ban is no joke. 

She wants to set an example that age does not matter if the body supports. Poovamma, the senior-most member of the Indian team that made it to the Paris Games by finishing second in the heat (opening race) of the World Athletics Relays, was banned for two years in 2021 for doping offences. She returned to competitions last year.

"I wanted to prove that I am still a key member of the relay team and that I can still do it," Poovamma said from Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Even age doesn't matter. I wanted to set an example. My return to this level was very satisfactory and I am very happy" She said.

She said, 'I have achieved everything, I have Asian Games medals, I have participated in the World Championships four times and I have played in the Olympics twice. Due to the ban, I could not go to Tokyo Olympics. It slipped out of my hands"

Poovamma, who turns 34 next month, said, 'So I have to participate in another Olympics and if my body is supporting me then why should I leave the sport. Some foreign athletes run until the age of 35 or 37. So I wanted to set an example for other athletes that age doesn't matter. That's why I did it"

Her return during the Goa National Games was not without hiccups as the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) ruled that the ban imposed on him had not expired. 

But NADA's Anti-Doping Appeal Panel (ADAP) reviewed its earlier decision after the intervention of the Kerala High Court and finally fixed the withdrawal date in his favour.

Poovamma is happy and relieved that she did not leave the game when she was banned, although she had a mental breakdown and cried during practice during that difficult time. 

She said, 'Only I and my family know what happened in those two-three years. Everyone expected me to retire but I wanted to make a comeback. I achieved everything but after being banned I never kept retirement as an option.

Poovamma said, 'I wanted to do something and leave the game. My husband supported me very much and he was paying attention to the training sent by coach Galina (Bukharina). It was not easy to come back for three more years without any competition. She said, 'I was completely mentally broken during the ban but I wanted to run again, did not want to quit. Something bad happened to me and I don't know how it happened but AFI knows what I am". 

She said she will continue running as long as her body allows.