Ranchi, February 15 (PTI) Mired in controversy in the nottoo distant past, the 34th edition of the National Games meansa lot to swimmer Richa Mishra.
One of the biggest names in Indian swimming, Richa wassuspended after she tested positive for a banned substanceahead of the Delhi Commonwealth Games last year, before beingdrafted into the side following NADA''s decision to lift theprovisional suspension.
Participating in all the 20 events including threerelays, the 27-year-old swimmer has already won six gold andone silver. Her aim is to win as many gold medals as possibleto put the bitter episode behind.
"It''s now past. I''m fully focussed on the Nationals. I''mnot really bothered about what happened in the past. That ishistory now," Richa told PTI moments after winning yet anothergold despite battling an upset stomach.
Winner of multiple National titles and holder of threeNational records, Richa''s main target here is to break her ownbest of eight gold she won in the last meet in Guwahati fouryears ago.
Having already won six -- including today''s haul of two-- from seven individual competitions, she is very much oncourse to achieve her target.
"It''s difficult to say how many will I win. Perhaps asmany as possible. But I want to get past the eight mark," asmiling Richa said.
Asked whether she is trying to prove a point or two,Richa replied in negative.
"From very early, I''m used to swim in all the events of acompetition. I joined the CRPF team when I was just 15-plus asdid my sister (Charu) and we would swim as many events aspossible and earn more medals and points for the team.
"At the Kolkata Nationals, which was before I swam forAndhra Pradesh, I actually won 10 gold medals," Richarecalled.
Such has been her dominance that Richa was, in fact, atloss for words when asked which was her pet event. Freestyle,breastsroke, backstroke -- as expected she went on to namealmost everything.
"I love all the events. I just love to be in the pool.
Swimming is my passion," she said.
For this edition of the Games, Richa was in talks withhosts Jharkhand before she finally settled for Delhi, hernative. She argued that there is nothing wrong if an athletecompetes for another state for monetary incentive.
Citing the example of IPL, Richa said, "When players areauctioned at the IPL and play for other cities, why is this anissue? Similarly in the entertainment industry actors fromother countries (Katrina Kaif and Jacqueline Fernandes) aremaking money here. So what''s wrong if we do?" she asked. PTITAP AH