Kamalpreet Kaur, the women’s discus throw national record holder, was persuaded by her physical education teacher to participate in a state-level discus event when she was in Class 10 at school. Even though she was unable to win a medal, her fourth-place finish ignited her competitive spirit. The athlete from Punjab, India has come a long way since her first attempt at shot put before switching over to the discus.
The journey for Kamalpreet, stretching from a little-known athlete to an Olympic-bound superstar, gathered steam only months before the prestigious event. In March, the six-foot one-inch-tall athlete rewrote the national record, becoming the first female in India to cross the 65-meter mark which allowed her to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. She improved on her record again in June, throwing 66.59 meters. A massive improvement from her previous best at 65.06 meters. Her incredible achievement has even helped her to make new friends on the circuit.
Dismal Results in School Proved to be a Blessing
Kamalpreet was not academically inclined which proved to be a blessing in disguise at the end. With her dismal results when it came to school exams, the 25-year-old decided to take her chances with sports. She first started off with the shot put. However, her coach felt that she would be better in discus. The quest from a reluctant athlete to someone who will represent India during the Tokyo Olympics has had its fair share of hurdles over the years.
When Kamalpreet was still a teenager, she informed her parents that she was interested in pursuing track and field. Kuldeep, her father, set off to Badal to find out if the Sports Authority of India center would be able to take her in. However, the young and inexperienced Kamalpreet didn’t earn her spurs which meant that the SAI facility was unable to take her under their wings. Thankfully, there was a private school and sports hostel that was located near the SAI facility, but they required a fee of Rs 1 lakh.
Kamalpreet’s father had to sell some of his land to fund his daughter’s training. What made matters worse is that other students in the sports hostel wore branded shoes and clothing which was something that her father was unable to afford for his daughter. Kamalpreet had to use canvas shoes as opposed to a specifically made pair designed for discus throw. The shoes lasted less than a week, but things finally started looking up when she won her first junior national medal. Thereafter, she was selected to train at the prestigious SAI center where she met her coach, Rakhi Tyagi.
The Spotlight Won’t be on Kamalpreet at the Olympics
Even though Kamalpreet has achieved huge success in discus throw, the spotlight won’t be on her when the track and field events get underway at the Olympics. Most of the attention will be on Neeraj Chopra, the javelin star from Haryana, India. If Kamalpreet can throw to her full potential, she can easily make the women’s discus throw final.
The 66.59-meter throw of Kamalpreet is the sixth-best attempt at the moment and would have earned her a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. She needs a series of consistent throws to successfully make it in Tokyo while fighting off nerves as a first-time Olympian. Thankfully, she only has one goal in mind, to give it her best and to try and get close to 69 meters. The last thing on her mind is earning a medal.