Kamalpreet Kaur is the talk of the town after qualifying for the final of the Discus throw at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Saturday. She registered a throw of 64.00m to qualify in second place.
Kamalpreet Kaur booked her ticket for Tokyo 2020 after she sent the discus to 65.06m, in her first and only legal throw, at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships held in Patiala.
Kaur set a new national record and breached the Olympic qualification mark of 63.50m in the process. The previous record of 64.76 set by Krishna Poonia in 2012.
Her throw also bettered that of veteran discus thrower and 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Seema Punia, who finished second, with a throw of 62.64m.
So who is Kaur? Here's a look at her journey and achievements so far.
Early days and introduction to the sport
Kaur comes from Badal village in the Sri Muktsar Sahib district of Punjab. As a child, she was not interested academics. On the insistence of her physical education coach, Kaur took up athletics in 2012. She finished fourth at her first state meet.
“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,” Kaur told the Indian Express recalling her earlier days.
On the rise
Kaur started taking the sport seriously in 2014 and her initial training began at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in her village. Her rigorous practice and natural ability soon began to yield results as she became the U-18 and U-20 national champion in 2016. Later, in 2017, she finished sixth at the 29th World University Games.
At Asian Athletics Championships in Doha in 2019, she finished fifth.
First Indian to breach the 65m barrier
Kaur made history at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships as she became the first Indian woman to breach the 65m barrier in discus throw. Remarkably, it was the second time in a row that she had finished at the top of the podium. She had clinched the gold in the 2019 edition with a throw of 60.25m.
Employed with the Indian Railways
Kaur is employed as a clerk with the Indian Railways and represents them in National meets. Before representing her team at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships she couldn't sleep for three nights due to nervousness and excitement.
“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," she told the Indian Express.
Kaur looks at Seema Punia as one of her idols. She currently trains under Baljeet Singh, who believes, his ward has the potential to breach the 68m mark in near future. He, however, is concerned about the foul throws and wants to iron out her flaws ahead of Tokyo 2020.
“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 told the Indian Express.