Poonam Dinkar Sonune, an experienced middle-distance runner from Maharashtra, representing Mangalore University clinched the gold medal in the 5000 meters event at the Khelo India University Games 2022 that took place in Uttar Pradesh.
Poonam previously clinched the South Asian U20 championship in the 3000 meters event. She won her first gold in her third attempt at the Khelo India University games. Her winning time in the race was 16:59.31 minutes. Earlier, Poonam participated in the World 10K race in Bengaluru, where she secured the 16th position overall and the second position among Indian elite women runners. She then travelled to Lucknow and won first place in the race that took place at the Guru Gobind Singh Sports College Campus with a time of 16:59.31 minutes. The current national record for this competition is held by Parul Chaudhary with a timing of 15:10.35.
Poonam, who is 23 years old, earlier participated in the Khelo India University Games that took place in Bhubaneswar and Bengaluru. In Bengaluru, she secured the third position in the 5000 meters event. She expressed her happiness for getting the chance to participate in the Khelo India University Games and mentioned that winning a medal in these games is very special for her.
Poonam stated that she also took part at the Khelo India Youth Games and won gold in the 5000 meters event and silver in the 3000 meters event that was held in Pune. She also clinched a bronze medal in the 5000 meters event that took place in Guwahati. Although she has participated in several events at the national level, she aims to break the national record someday.
Poonam has experience participating in both international and national events. In 2018, she competed in the Gifu Asian Junior Championship in Japan, where she secured the fourth position in the 3000 meters event with a timing of 9:37.17.
Regarding her achievements, Poonam stated that she took part in the National Federation Cup held at the C.H.
Muhammad Koya Stadium in Thenhipalam, where she finished eighth. She also participated in the Federation Cup held in Patiala, where she secured the fifth position in the 5000 meters event with a timing of 16:50.06. Adding to it, she secured the third position in the All India Inter-University Championship held at Bhubaneswar with a time of 16:57.80.
Poonam expressed her fondness for participating in the Khelo India Games and stated that the organizing committee of the event in Bakaul was excellent. However, she felt that if her event had been scheduled a bit earlier, she could have broken the National record. She presently aims to participate in the World University Games and will be attending trials for the same at Bhubaneswar.
One of Poonam's biggest achievements in her career so far was winning the South Asian U20 Championship held in Colombo in 2018. She secured the first position in the 3000 meters event with a time of 9:50.21. She also participated in the Indian U20 Championship held in Coimbatore in the same year, where she won the gold in the 3000 meters event with a time of 9:50.61.
Poonam said, "In the Indian U20 Championship held in Trivandrum in 2019, I secured the first position in the 3000 meters race with a timing of 9:52.32 minutes. After that, in 2020, I participated in the Indian University Championship (Moodbidri), where I won first place in the 10,000 meters race with a time of 36:00.32 minutes."
Poonam mentioned that when she initially chose sports. Her thoughts were earlier focused on winning medals at the state level. However, now she aims to make her country proud at the international level. Poonam said, "My mindset was different when I chose sports. I wanted to win medals at the state level and bring a sense of accomplishment to my family. But now, times have changed, and my present aim is to win medals for our nation at the international level. This is the reason why I stay away from home for many months, even though my home is just five hours away from Nashik." (ANI)