Updated: March 20, 2021 1:40:49 pm
On the final day of the Federation Cup, all eyes were on the women’s discus throw with Seema Punia competing in India after over two years. The 37-year-old 2014 Asian Games gold medallist was the favourite on Friday until Punjab’s Kamalpreet Kaur turned the tables with her first and only legal throw.
The 25-year-old took everyone by surprise, hurling the discus 65.06m, comfortably breaching the Olympic qualification mark of 63.50m and shattering the previous national record of 64.76 set by Krishna Poonia in 2012.
Seema finished second (62.64m) ahead of Delhi’s Sonal Goyal (51.11m). Kamalpreet, a clerk with the Indian Railways, could not control her excitement. She hadn’t slept properly for the last three nights due to the adrenaline rush.
“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. I am really glad that I have broken her record (Seema’s meet record),” she said.
Many congratulations to #KamalpreetKaur who achieved qualification for #Tokyo2020 in women’s discus throw with a national record attempt of 65.06m. This is also above the Olympic qualification benchmark of 63.5m. #RoadToOlympics #JeetengeOlympics #DiscusThrow #FederationCup pic.twitter.com/8eobFshyPF
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) March 19, 2021
Kamalpreet considers Seema one of her idols and it only made her day even better when the senior athlete was the first to congratulate her. “She said I was doing well and that she knew I would break the record,” Kamalpreet said.
Seema ‘didi’, gracious in defeat, also handed over the gold to her during the medal ceremony saying: “Gudiya (Little girl), here’s your medal. Come let’s take a picture now.”
Kamalpreet took up athletics in 2012 reluctantly after her school coach kept nudging her. She unwillingly took part in a state meet once and finished fourth. That’s when she had a change of heart and started believing that she could become an elite athlete one day.
“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 said.
‘Flower pots as dumbbells’
Kamalpreet feels she was able to deliver a huge throw on Friday because of innovative training methods employed during the lockdown. Since all training facilities and gyms were shut, she used household items as gym equipment.
“I used the double bed at home as weights. The bed is filled with clothes so I used it for my deadlift exercises. I used the flower pots at home as dumbbells. I did all the exercises I could at home and ran in the fields,” she said.
Her coach Baljeet Singh feels Kamalpreet has the potential to cross 68m provided some flaws are ironed out. Baljeet’s biggest concern is the number of foul throws as only one out of her four attempts was legal.
“She keeps her legs too straight. She needs to bend her knees a little which will give her extra grip and reduce foul throws,” he explained.
Meet record rewritten in 24 hours
The 200m women’s final saw stiff competition between Dhanalakshmi, who has emerged as one of the most promising sprinters in recent times, and seasoned Hima Das. Hima (23.21s) managed to take home the title staving off Dhanalakshmi (23.39s). Hima’s effort also earned her the meet record, set by Dhanalakshmi on Thursday in the heats where she beat the Assamese runner.
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“In the heats, I took it easy and today I am glad I won the gold. The season has just started. My performance will improve,” Hima said.
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