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Monday, July 26, 2021

Toor de force: Tajinderpal books Tokyo slot

Toor’s first throw of 21.49m which helped him make the 32-thrower field at the Games, was also a new Asian record, bettering 21.15m thrown by Abdel Mahmood of Bahrain last week. 

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
Updated: June 22, 2021 1:19:42 pm
tajinderpal singh toorTajinderpal Singh Toor in action. (Reuters/FILE)

Shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor first made a throw of 21.49m for a new national record, ensuring he heads to the Tokyo Olympics, clearing the qualification mark of 21.10m at the Indian Grand Prix 4. He would then share this news with his mother back home in village Khosa Pando. And dedicate this performance to Flying Sikh Milkha Singh. “Milkha sir showed India what is needed to reach an Olympic final. Hopefully, I too can do that at Tokyo,” he said.

Toor’s first throw of 21.49m which helped him make the 32-thrower field at the Games, was also a new Asian record, bettering 21.15m thrown by Abdel Mahmood of Bahrain last week.

“It feels special to break the national and Asian record with the first throw of the competition to book the spot for Tokyo Olympics. Last one year was mostly about sitting at home or training alone. This will obviously ease the pressure going into the Olympics. When the Games were delayed last year, I also had to delay my wedding by one more year. My family members showed faith in me in this time,” said Toor, while talking with The Indian Express.

Three of his throws exceeded the previous national record of 21.10m – 21.28m, 21.13m and 21.13 during his third, fourth and fifth attempts. It was for the first time that Toor had crossed 21m in his career.

Toor was primed for qualification last March after a national record of 20.92m at the
Open Nationals in Ranchi in November, 2019. Then the pandemic ground competitions to a halt.
Starting this season with 20.58m during the Federation Cup in March, he’d suffer a setback in April when he was denied a visa to compete in Iran and later Kazakhstan, due to Covid related travel restrictions.

“While I would imagine about qualifying and competing at Tokyo last year, I spent the same time sitting at home. Initially it was a mental setback and I gained weight too. But then I would talk with my coach MS Dhillon sir. Later I’d draw motivation from the fact that my coach was spending time away from his family due to me. Missing Iran was disappointing as we returned from the airport and to miss competitions in Kazakhstan too was a setback. But then I kept talking with my family members to stay motivated,” adds Toor.

Last week, American Ryan Crouser created a new world record of 23.37m bettering Randy Barnes’ previous mark of 23.12 set in 1990. This year has seen 13 athletes throwing more than Toor’s Monday throw of 21.49m with five athletes crossing 22m including Crouser. Americans Joe Kovacs (22.72m), Darrel Hill (22.34), Polish Michael Haratyk (22.17) and New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh (22m) have set up a fine Tokyo showdown.

“There was bit of mental block due to not qualifying. I have been aiming to put the right foot under or behind the knee with perfection and once that happens, I am confident of crossing 22m. I have watched Crouser and the way he increases his speed in the circle with the right balance of power and technique is something to learn and master,” says Toor.

Coach MS Dhillon too believes that the next one month will be spent on clearing out some flaws and making Toor achieve his rhythm.

“He was under pressure but our target was 21.30-21.70m. Technically, his right foot is not going down as it should happen naturally and we need to spend time on this over the next four weeks. This can happen when there is lack of competition. We also will work on muscle coordination and making his mind coordinate with perfection in terms of start swing, fixing the shot put, setting the power position and throw,” adds Dhillon.

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