he last time javelin thrower Shivpal Singh took part in an international competition was in the Asian Games 2018. It wasn’t a memorable outing. He was in tears after an injury forced him to pull out after just one throw. It was a low point in Varanasi thrower’s career. But Monday was different. Shivpal, 23, bagged a silver medal with his personal attempt of 86.23m at the ongoing Asian Athletics Championship in Doha.
In the absence of Neeraj Chopra, the onus was on him and Davinder Singh Kang to produce a big throw and earn a podium finish for India. Although Kang failed miserably, finishing last in the finals, Shivpal produced a throw almost 4 meters better than his previous best of 82.56m. He also made the cut the for World Championships (qualifying mark 83m) to be held in September at the same venue.
Shivpal is a key member of the Indian javelin squad, but in the last few years, the 23-year-old has been overshadowed by the likes of Neeraj Chopra and Davinder Kang, who finished 10th with a throw of 71.58.
To put his 86m plus throw in perspective, he would have earned him a silver in the last two editions of the Asiads and a gold in 2010. With Neeraj still the country’s premier thrower
After his Asian Games disappointment, the Air Force sergeant trained quietly under coach Uwe Hohn in Potchefstroom, South Africa. His hard work seems to have paid off. He had a good start to the season, with an 81 m plus throw at the Federation Cup in March that had also earned him a ticket to Doha.
Shivpal comes from a family of javelin throwers and was introduced to the sport at a tender age and had his younger brother Nandkishore Singh, a junior national medallist, to draw inspiration from. Unlike most Indian athletes, who find it difficult to gain access to proper training equipment and facilities, Shivapal was privileged. A gym, javelins and open grounds were readily available for him.
After a promising 82.56m in June last year, he was among the favourites to bag a medal at the Asian Games. But as fate had it, he turned up for the event heavily taped and broke into tears immediately after his first throw. It looked like a tame end for a promising athlete. But he’s come back stronger.
“Everyone in my village expects me to do great things in athletics because of the number of javelin throwers in my family. Before the Asian Games, I was throwing 85 to 86 metres during training.
However, I had felt stiffness in my elbow after my first throw and could not complete the rest of my throws. I managed just 74.11 metres. It broke my heart when the bronze medal was won at 80.75,” Shivpal had told The Indian Express.
Gomathi, Toor grab golds
Gomathi Marimuthu scripted an inspiring story and made a dream come true by winning the women’s 800m gold while shot putter Tajinder Singh Toor bagged gold with a best throw of 20.22m. Gomathi clocked a personal best of 2:02.70 with a gallant run over the final lap after being pushed to sixth place just after the bell. On the back straight, she went past a pair of Sri Lankan runners and moved to third place with 200m left.
“I did not realise that I have won the gold until I crossed the finish line that I have won a gold medal. Last 150m was a very tight race,” Gomathi said after her victory.
Running on the outside, the 30-year-old could sense Kazakhstan’s Margarita Mukasheva and the leader Wang Chunyu losing pace. And she willed herself to sustain her charge till the gold was won.
This was third time lucky for Gomathi, who had finished seventh in the Asian Championship in 2013 and fourth in 2015. She had to come through a confirmatory trial in Patiala where she was paced by quartermiler MR Poovamma. She did not need such support on the track this time as she drew from the energy and intensity to deliver a good performance.
Indian results: Javelin Throw (men) – Shivpal Singh 86.23m (PB) (wins silver); 400m Hurdles (women)- Saritaben Gayakwad 57.22s (bronze) and Arpritha. M sixth with 58.15s; Triple Jump (men)- Praveen Chithravel (Did not finish); 400m hurdles (men) – Jabir M.P. 49.13(PB) (bronze); 400m (men) – Arokia Rajiv 4th with 45.37s (PB) and Muhammed Anas 8th with 46.10s; Shot Put- Tejinder Pal 20.22m (SB) for gold; 100m (women) – Dutee Chand finishes fifth with 11.44s; 800m (men’s) Muhammed Afsal – 1:54.68 (Finished 8th in Finals) and Jinson Johnson (Did not Finish).