A day after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, javelin thrower Shivpal Singh is back at the training ground with more rounds added to his running session. The 24-year-old Varanasi athlete lives by a slightly reworked phrase, “party hard, work harder”. After throwing 85.47m (85m qualification mark) during a meet at Potchefstroom, South Africa, Shivpal and his mates head to a local Indian restaurant and stuff themselves with paranthas, curd, and rasgullas.
“I was full to the neck. I was allowed a cheat meal yesterday and had to make the most of it. While digging in, I told myself that I will run a few extra rounds to burn the calories. Please don’t ask what all we ate, I might be tempted to head there again (laughs),” Shivpal told The Indian Express over phone from Potchefstroom.
But the athlete isn’t joking about the extra rounds. He knows how much fitness matters in his discipline. Since his training began in South Africa last year under coach Uwe Hohn, fitness and core strengthening have been the key areas they have worked on.
“My pullover ( an exercise using weights to strengthen the chest and back) capacity has increased from 90 to 110kgs, snatch from 105 to 115kgs. I can take more weight on the bench press and clear all hurdles during my jump training easily now,” he said.
Although Shivpal’s muscle mass is the same, he has cut down around 4kg on fat alone. “I feel way more confident about myself. I have never been this fit all my life and as promised, I will deliver the 90m throw very soon,” he claims.
However, Shivpal’s effort didn’t particularly enthuse the German javelin legend despite it booking a ticket to Tokyo. “He told me it’s good that I finally qualified but I had to still work on making my throw more fluid. He wanted good technique and not distance,” Shivpal said.
The sport runs in Shivpal’s blood with every second male member of the extended family having tried his hand at javelin throwing. His younger brother Nandkishore Singh, a national camper, has lived up to the family tradition.
“Everyone is extremely happy at home. We’ve had dozens of athletes coming from our family but this is the first time anyone has qualified for the Olympics. When he comes to Patiala, we train together and he gives me a lot of tips. This is such a proud moment for all of us,” Nandkishore said.
Shivpal feels with the form he is in right now, hitting the 90m mark isn’t a distant dream. Compatriot Neeraj Chopra, the Asian and Commonwealth champion, threw 88.06m for the top spot at the 2018 Jakarta Asiad.
“If you want to take it in writing, I can confidently give it to you. I will make a 90m throw this summer. Newspaper people often search for masala. What is bigger than that I am promising you a huge throw,” he confidently says.
Chopra too is excited about Shivpal making the cut for the Olympics and expects more throwers to earn a berth in the following months. “There was a time when we had no representation in the Olympics from the country, and now we have two guaranteed to take part in the mega event. It is a very proud moment for the sport and will encourage more youngsters to pursue it,” said the former junior world champion who also holds the national record.
What will be the celebrations like if and when he achieves the 90m mark?. A few beers perhaps?
“There was a member of the family who drank too much and I decided I would never touch it in my life. Lassi hai na ji !” Shivpal signs off.
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