Name: Inderjeet Singh, 26
Event: Shot put
At the Asiad, shot-putter Inderjeet Singh was desperate to win a medal. A year after winning India’s first-ever medal at the World University Games in Kazan, Inderjeet wasn’t considered a medal prospect at the senior level. A podium finish at the Asian Games, the 25-year-old hoped, would bring the recognition he craved for.
Inderjeet, standing tall at 6’5” and tipping the scales at 150 kilograms, wasn’t taking any chances. He wanted to be well prepared. On checking the schedule of the shot put final, Inderjeet realized it would be held well past dusk at the Munhak Stadium. In order to get a feel of the light conditions, Inderjeet, who trained at the Bhim Singh Stadium in Bhiwani, used a novel method. To simulate night-like conditions, Inderjeet would park his car and focus its beam on the circle and the throwing area which lay ahead. “This was the only way I could have got a sense of how it would be in Incheon while training at Bhiwani,” he says. “At the stadium in Bhiwani we don’t even have a proper weight-training hall. Floodlights to train will be seen as asking for too much,” he adds.
What he calls ‘poor infrastructure’ is not the only hurdle he had to overcome before he registered a distance of 19.63 metres to win bronze at the Asiad. “I am big, my training gear costs at least Rs 3,000 and each pair of shoes upto Rs 10,000. My dietary needs require a separate budget. Every month I receive Rs 15,000 from the Anglian Medal Hunt Company plus a few well-wishers also help me financially. But I have struggled to make both ends meet. In spite of winning a medal at the World University Games, I don’t have a job,” Inderjeet says.
It was his father Gurdial Singh, an operator at the Northern Coal Fields Limited, Nigahi, who encouraged Inderjeet to take up sport. His sporting career initially veered towards being a fast bowler/all-rounder. “I made 53 while representing Delhi Public School, Nigahi, in a match versus a school from Pakistan. But because of my size and strength, I was advised to take-up an individual throws event.”
There were days when Inderjeet wondered if he had made the right career choice. “It took me 14 years to qualify for the Asian Games. When I felt that I didn’t get the recognition for my silver at the University Games, I would get upset and wonder if I should try and get a regular job. Hope the government, sponsors and officials will now take note of my silver.”