In the run up for the coveted Tokyo Olympics, India will see it’s biggest sporting stars produce some of their finest performances in the bid to secure a spot in the Games. Amongst the current Tokyo bound team, women’s discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur has emerged as an athletics sensation with her many astounding feats.
The Punjab discus thrower booked her ticket at the Olympics after she threw the discus to the 65.06m mark shattering the national record. It was her first and only legal throw at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships held in Patiala in March.
But it was only a glimpse of her mettle as Kaur broke her own record just two months after, at the Indian Grand Prix 4 in Patiala on 21st June. She threw her discus at the 66.59m mark in her fifth attempt. This awe-striking performance placed her in contention of an Olympic medal as her staggering throw would have earned her a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics.
“Then I thought ‘let’s give sports a try as I am not that great at studies’,”
Kamalpreet Kaur comes from Badal village in Sri Muktasar Sahib district of Punjab. As a child she wasn’t interested in academics and took up athletics in 2012 on the insistence of her physical education coach. She finished fourth in her first state meet.
“I was really bad at studies. There was a state meet and my coach took me there. I think I finished fourth there and 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 the sport,” she told Indian Express while recalling her earlier days.
Kaur took the sport seriously in 2014. Her initial training took place at the SAI (Sports Authority of India) center in her village. Her natural ability and rigorous training soon started yielding results. She became the U-18 and U-20 champion in discus throw in 2016. But this was only the beginning.
In 2017, she finished 6th at the 29th World University Games. And at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019, she finished 5th.
First Indian woman to breach the 65m barrier in discus throw
Kamalpreet Kaur rewrote history as she became the first Indian woman to breach the 65m barrier in discus throw at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships.
Kaur is employed as a clerk at Indian Railways and represents them at the National meets. Before representing her team at the Federation Cup, Kaur couldn’t sleep for three days due to nervousness and excitement.
“It was my strategy to go all out in the first throw itself and it worked for me. I cannot convey in words how happy I am feeling now. I couldn’t sleep for the last three nights because of the nervous excitement,” the 25-year-old was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
“I want to bring a medal from Tokyo. I don’t want to think about anything else”
After rewriting her own national record, the only disappointment for Kamalpreet Kaur was not hitting the 67m mark.
“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,” Indian Express quoted her as saying. “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,” she added.
The Tokyo bound thrower is the most improved athlete on the circuit. She managed to throw the discus an extra distance farther despite not being able to access the ground regularly due to the pandemic. But the tenacious athlete adopted 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 according to the Indian Express. “I used the flower pots at home as dumbbells. I did all the exercises I could at home and ran in the fields,” she added.
Right now, Kamalpreet Kaur is entirely focussed on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and aims to bring back a medal for the country. “I want to bring a medal from Tokyo. I don’t want to think about anything else,” she said.