Kamalpreet Kaur is not too fond of the rain. Especially when she competes. But as mother nature would have it, the Tokyo Olympic Stadium was drenched on Monday with a heavy bout of rain and the 25-year-old discus thrower finished sixth in her maiden Olympic appearance.
She was waiting in the first call-up room when it began to drizzle. Kamalpreet had to take a short stroll from the first call-up room, located outside the stadium to the second call-up room inside. She casually threw a towel onto her head and began the walk. About half-an-hour later, she announced her arrival at the venue by flexing her right bicep as she walked in.
Kamalpreet began with a throw of 61.62m, fouled the next one, and secured a 63.70m throw in her third attempt — after a rain interruption — under pressure to make the top-8 in the event. It kept her in the competition and gave her three more throws. However, she could not improve her distance in the final three throws.
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The rain disrupted the competition, which was halted after throwers, including eventual gold medallist Valarie Allman of the US, lost their rhythm and footing in the wet circle. The athletes were asked to go indoors.
The rain made Kamalpreet apprehensive, who was afraid of falling and injuring herself. “I was nervous today from the first throw. It began to rain as soon as I started to feel better and that drained my confidence again because I have never performed well in rainy weather,” she said.
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Allman won USA’s first track and field gold of the Games with a best throw of 68.98m, which she achieved in the first round. Germany’s Kristin Pudenz bagged the silver with a throw of 66.86m, while Yaime Perez of Cuba took the bronze with a throw of 65.72m.
Kamalpreet set a national record of 65.06m at the Federation Cup in March 2021. In June, she threw 66.59m at the Indian Grand Prix 4, but it’s not considered a national record since she was the sole participant on the day. A throw in that range would have put her among the medals in Tokyo.
“I am not at all happy. I was hoping to secure a new personal best. If I had managed that today then I would have gone home with a medal,” she said.
Looking at the positives, she said, “I’ve qualified for the World Championships. Then there are the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. I want to perform well there. I don’t want to be nervous there as well. I want to return with a gold medal from those events.”
Kamalpreet was thrilled to share space with Sandra Perkovic, who won gold in the 2012 and 2016 Games. “She’s my inspiration. When I qualified for the final, she saw me in the dining hall and left her food to come up and congratulate me. It felt like a dream come true! I felt a little bad that she finished fourth today, but she was my competitor at the end of the day,” she said.
She also hinted at swapping the discus for a cricket bat. “I like cricket more. I’ll tell you something that nobody knows – I played cricket in January. I practised cricket along with the discus. I am fond of batting. I like fast bowling but the bowling action and discus action are different and there is a scope for injury. I yearn to play for the Indian women’s cricket team one day.”
Kamalpreet matched the placing of Krishna Poonia, who finished sixth in the discus with a throw of 63.62m at the 2012 London Games.
India had a discus finalist in the 2012 London Olympics on the men’s side, Vikas Gowda. He finished eighth.