South African discus queen Elizna Naude thinks that she will find it tough to retain her Commonwealth Games title in Delhi in October, and is doing everything she can to defend the title. And to focus more strongly on her athletics, Naude has taken unpaid leave from her job as a teacher.
"To win the Commonwealth Games title I've got to beat the world champion," she said, referring to Australia's Dani Samuels, who finished third at the previous Games in Melbourne 2006.
Naude won with a throw of 61.55m, with Seema Antil of India heaving 60.56m and Samuels 59.44m.
"I was lucky because my main rivals didn't throw their best," admitted Naude, who picked up a career-threatening back injury in 2007 that has hampered her performances since. At the Beijing Olympics she fell far short of her personal best of 64.87m, which would have won gold.
"At this stage I'm the best I've been in three years," said Naude, who will compete in the Yellow Pages series from next month before heading to Europe in May.
"This is my make-or-break year. I'm 31, though that's young for discus."
She and her athletic colleagues have been in camp at the high-performance centre in Pretoria, the first of its kind since Athletics SA's leadership was suspended by the national Olympic body late last year.
Naude is relishing the opportunity of returning to battle.
"I need to defend my title. I didn't sleep the night when I won the Commonwealth Games title in 2006. It's an awesome feeling."
"I've got a DVD of five of my throws and the medal presentation, and whenever I feel down I play it."