The rustic touch to shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor is hard to miss as is his calm acceptance of expectation that he would win the men’s shot-put gold in the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha on Monday. With an opening effort of 20.22m, he ensured that he would become the eighth Indian to win Asian Championships shot put gold and that the rest of the field was fighting for silver.
Yet, the burly athlete’s celebrations at the end of it all were muted. There was no guttural roar like the one that escaped Ehsan Hadadi of Iran when he claimed men’s discus throw gold for the fifth time in a row. It was understandable that Tajinderpal Singh Toor was dealing with some disappointment swirling in his mind that his quest for the 21m throw had remained unfulfilled.
“Yes, I was looking for a 21m throw today. I lost my rhythm after a good start. And that is disappointing,” he said. “My coach helped me direct my energy well so that I could execute six good throws and ensure that the time spent in preparation did not go waste. I could have done better but I know that a 21m throw will happen soon.”
His coach Mohinder Singh Dhillon, aware that his trainee is work-in-progress, did the best he could to keep the shot putter fired up, goading him to go all out even towards the end of the competition. Obviously, the coach and the athlete were separated by distance and at different elevations. The announcements streaming in the Khalifa Stadium’s public address system were also not a help.
Frustratingly for Dhillon, his bid to impress upon Tajinderpal Singh Toor to not rush through his routine was lost in transit. “His technique is not perfect yet. He was perhaps too wound up in the throwing circle and rushing through. His right hand was pulling away too fast and causing some imbalance and reducing the power needed,” he said.
Dhillon said that they lost some time because the athlete felt a twinge in his back when picking up a deadlift during weight-training on return to India from their sojourn to New Zealand. “That trip was not very productive, mainly because Tajinderpal’s body clock did not adapt to the local conditions and he ended up sleeping late and not feeling fresh during training,” he said.
Yet, while he waited for Tajinderpal Singh Toor to complete the formalities at the Dope Control Centre, Dhillon was a pleased man. “The boy has moved from being a 19m thrower to a 20m thrower now. He has been able to come up with at least one such throw in three of the four recent competitions, including the Asian Games in Jakarta last year,” he said.
Indeed, the consistent road that Tajinderpal Singh Toor has taken is rare among athletes of his ilk. At the Asian Games, he set a new Games record with 20.75m. A Services Championships saw him turn up, make a 19.15m throw and win the title. He won the season-opening Indian Grand Prix in Patiala with a 20.13m winning mark.
Coming into the Asian Championships as one of the handful of Asian Games champions from India, he was the overwhelming favourite to win the crown. He responded to that by winding himself up to send the shot over 20.22m. That throw was enough to win the athlete from Moha the gold in Doha.
And while the left-hander added throws of 19.63, 19.78, 19.41, 19.30 and 19.55 in a good series, he ensured that he would not make a foul. None of the 13 other competitors escaped that. In fact, the other two medallists managed only five legal throws between them. China’s Wu Jiaxing had three fouls but a 20.03 on his third attempt was a personal best.
Kazakhstan’s Ivan Ivanov, bronze medallist in Asian Championships in 2017 and in the last Asian Games with distances of 19.41 and 19.40m, opened with 19.09 but had a string of four fouls and finished with a final effort of 18.75m. Iran’s Mehrdelan Shahin, with a personal best of 19.95m, was another who could have mounted a challenge but he had two fouls and a best of 18.71m.
To revert to Tajinderpal Singh Toor’s consistency, it is the result of an understanding that it is necessary to raise the bar to be able to make an impact at the global level. He needs to get to 21.10m to be assured of Olympic qualification. “Of course, it is our goal to get to 21m this year,” Dhillon said. “And then we can work towards making a mark in Tokyo.”
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Updated Date: Apr 23, 2019 16:17:00 IST