Without a coach and her favourite discus, Punia still wins silver

Seema Punia (left) celebrates with Navjeet Dhillon after the discus throw final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Seema Punia and Navjeet Dhillon won the silver and bronze medals respectively in the discus throw at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday. Punia's best throw was 60.41m while Dhillon's was 57.43m. Australia's Dani Stevens won the gold with a Games record of 68.26m.

Punia, who was competing without a coach and her favourite discus, registered throws of 60.41m, 59.57m, 58.54m and 58.90m to win her fourth successive Commonwealth Games medal. Her third and fifth throws were fouls.

Dhillon's threw 55.61m, 56.22m, 54.09m and 57.43m but fouled her second and third attempts.

Punia, 34, said with some exasperation that she might have to come back in four years' time for gold. While she spoke, the next generation Indian hope, Dhillon waited patiently for her turn.

"We were training without a coach, what else could we do?" Punia said. "But I think I could have thrown three to four metres farther. I think my shoulder wasn't holding up that well or I could have gone for 64-65 metres."

Having spent nearly two decades in the sport, Punia is not new to last-minute glitches. Her battered, lucky discus was held back by officials who insisted she use a new one. The familiar feeling of the known metal around whose sides she curled her fingers was gone.

Having travelled for tournaments and practised together with Evans, she says she expected more out of the Australian. "I think she was not at her 100 per cent either," she said. "She had invited me a couple of times to train with her in Australia, but it would have been expensive. I couldn't have afforded it."

Questions of her training in Russia had kicked up quite a storm a few weeks ahead of the Games and being asked about it again didn't leave her too pleased. "People question more than they applaud me," she said. "If I've got the country a medal, why worry over where I train?"

For Dhillon, 23, though her medal on debut was massive. "I was nervous but confident, and once I saw that I was in the medal zone, I just didn't want to give up," she said.

Punia was quick to point out that both players lacked on-field assistance from coaches, which teams like Australia enjoyed. "Without support there will never be an assembly line of players in discus for India," she said. "It could all end with us."

For now though, Punia has passed on the baton.