Before every big competition, discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur faces sleepless nights. She clarifies every time though, it is excitement and not nervousness that eats her sleep. It was no different in the run-up to Monday’s Indian Grand Prix IV in Patiala. Short on sleep perhaps, the Kabarwala village native, in Punjab’s Sri Muktsar Sahib district was on song to better the national record she set in March, this time reaching the 66.59m mark.
She was the only participant in her discipline at the event – which was organised since foreign trips didn’t materialise. But the 6-foot-1 thrower was naturally pleased with rewriting her record. The only disappointment for the first woman in the country to breach 65m, was not hitting 67m.
“My aim wasn’t to break the national record but to hurl a big throw of close to 67m and set the tone for the Olympics,” she said.
“I am aiming for a distance that will ensure me a spot on the podium. At the Olympics it doesn’t matter how far the other competitors throw, I am targeting 69m and I won’t be satisfied with anything less.”
To put her new record into perspective, 66.59m would have earned a bronze at the Rio Olympics.
Kamalpreet is one of the most improved athletes on the circuit. Before her 65.06m throw at the Federation Cup in March, which broke Krishna Poonia’s 64.76m national record, her personal best was close to 62m. She was able to add those precious metres despite not having regular access to grounds amid the pandemic by adopting innovative training methods.
“I used the double bed at home as weights. The bed is filled with clothes so I used it for my deadlift exercises,” she had said in March. “I used the flower pots at home as dumbbells. I did all the exercises I could at home and ran in the fields.”
Such dedication for an athlete who reluctantly took up the sport in 2012 after a school coach kept nudging her to compete. She finished fourth at a state-meet, but incidentally, that’s when she had a change of heart.
“I finished fourth at a state meet but everyone told me I had a good physique. Then I thought ‘let’s give sports a try as I am not that great at studies.’ My coach was a discus coach so I took it up,” she recalled.
With the promising throw on Monday, Kamalpreet can be counted amongst the medal hopefuls at Tokyo. But she knows she’ll need to push further for a podium finish.
“I want to bring a medal from Tokyo. I don’t want to think about anything else.”
Maybe that’s when she’ll get a good night’s sleep.
Dutee Chand narrowly misses Olympic cut
India’s fastest sprinter Dutee Chand rewrote her 100m national mark by clocking 11.17s but failed to meet the Olympic qualification standard of 11.15s by just .02s. Dutee had earlier mentioned that she is hopeful of making the cut on the basis of rankings if she fails to achieve the 11.15s mark.
But the Odisha sprinter will have another shot to seal the elusive spot in the upcoming Inter-State Meet.
“Dutee has a very good chance to qualify for the Olympics through the points system. If today’s points are added, her position would improve to around 36 from 42. The top 56 will qualify. This is a category F event so she will earn 25 points but the upcoming Inter-State Meet is a category B event and 100 points can be picked up if she wins there,” explained her coach N Ramesh.
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