Kamalpreet Kaur stormed into the finals of the women's discus throw event as she finished second in the overall qualification heats with a best attempt of 64m on her third and final throw.
The 25-year-old decided to take up the sport professionally in 2014 and this year, she has been among the top discus throwers in the world.
From the Sri Muktsar Sahib district of Punjab to the Tokyo Olympics, her story is inspiring, to say the very least. Here is how the inspirational career has panned out so far.
Early Years As a Discus Thrower
Kamalpreet decided to pursue her dreams as a sportsperson because she wasn’t getting good grades in academics. The athlete from Punjab started as a shot-put thrower and, after a suggestion from her coach at the Sports Authority of India centre in Badal, she switched to discus throwing.
The 25-year-old climbed up the ranks with impressive performances in the national and international events. The discus thrower won a bronze in the junior nationals in Bangalore in 2013. From there on, she hasn’t looked back. She finished sixth in the 2017 World University Games. At the senior level, Kamalpreet finished fifth in the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Doha.
Sports Was an Escape From Marriage
However, the journey to become a professional athlete wasn’t smooth at all as Kamalpreet had her own hindrances. “As it happens in villages, girls are under pressure to get married at a very early age. I knew that if I don’t do well at studies and am not able to make it to a good college, my fate would be the same,” Kamalpreet told Scroll in April this year.
Hailing from a humble family, her father was supportive of her dreams but her mother wasn't. She was skeptical as to how her daughter will adjust to the hostel life. But Kamalpreet was firm. There were challenges that came in her way – from undercooked rotis at hostels to lack of funds to buy equipment. But she fought against all odds and overcame all obstacles ... As they say ... 'when the going gets the tough, the tough get going'.
2021- A Year Of Kamalpreet's Meteoric Rise
Earlier this year, Kamalpreet booked her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics as she breached the Olympic qualification mark of 63.5m at the Athletics Federation Cup. She broke the national record with a throw of 65.06m. Kamalpreet remains the only Indian athlete to throw past the 65m mark... twice! After the Athletics Federation Cup, she bettered her own national record with a throw of 66.59 m in her home state at the Indian Grand Prix- IV.
Her competitors doubted her meteoric rise as she dramatically improved in such a short period of time. Senior athletes even went as far as to ask for a hyperandrogenism test. Kamalpreet, of course, denied the allegations and has said that she was quite disturbed by such allegations.
Aspired to Become A Cricketer
Like a majority of the Indian children, she was aspired to become a cricketer. On the advice of her coaches, she switched to shot-put and, later, moved on to discus throw. She still dreams of taking up the sport professionally. Can we expect another hard-hitting Kaur on the Indian women’s cricket team in the future?
Competitors in the Olympics Final
On Monday, Kamalpreet shall have the chance to etch her name in history books. But the contenders she is going up against won't make the job easy.
Valarie Allman, who finished on top after the qualification heat, will be in the reckoning for a spot on the podium. The American athlete has breached the 65m mark eight times this year while Cuban Yamie Perez has breached it on 6 occasions. Alongside Allman, Croatia’s Perkovic has a personal best of over 70m, but she hasn't breached the mark since 2018 when she logged a 71.41m throw.
Four athletes have a better season best than Kamalpreet. So the final is going to be tough for the Indian athlete.
Kamalpreet will shoulder the hopes of 1.3 billion Indians on 2 August. She has overcome every hurdle in the past, but can she go past this one and become Independent India’s first medallist in a track & field event?
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