FINAL FRONTIER BEIJING

Kunjarani Devi has won medals in every prestigious event, except the Olympics, writes Kamesh Srinivasan.

She is the iron lady of Indian sport. Few in Indian sports have as strong a will as Kunjarani Devi.

The 38-year-old CRPF inspector beat a girl half her age by a thrilling one-kilogram margin in the 48-kg category in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Quite fittingly, her gold medal opened the country's golden haul.

The Manipuri lady has won medals in every prestigious event, except the Olympics. She was unlucky not to be selected for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when she was at her peak. In fact, Kunjarani has inspired a legion of Indian women lifters, including Olympic silver medallist Karnam Malleswari, with her consistent World Championship medals over the years.

It is only natural that Kunjarani yearns for that Olympic medal after having finished fourth in Athens. She has won more than 60 international medals. She was selected in an all-time list of 100 great lifters. In about two decades of lifting, Kunjarani has not changed her weight except when the rules made her do so _ the minimum weight category was changed from 45 to 48.

It will be a fitting climax to a brilliant career if Kunjarani prolongs it to win a medal in the Beijing Olympics.