Kamalpreet Kaur took a big career leap when she qualified for the discus throw final at Tokyo 2020, but the Indian athlete saw a familiar fear crowding her mind on competition day.
The national record holder hurled the discus to a distance of 64m during the Group B of women’s discus throw qualification round in Tokyo. It was the second-best throw in the qualification round across groups as Kaur finished only behind the eventual gold medallist Valarie Allman from the United States.
Earlier this year, Kaur had risen out of obscurity to become the first Indian woman to breach the 66m mark as she recorded a throw of 66.59m at the Indian Grand Prix IV in June. The 25-year-old had raised expectations of a podium finish with her assured performance in the qualifying round in Tokyo. But Kaur finished sixth with the best effort of 63.70m after rain interrupted the play for a brief period of time and turned the conditions wet and tricky.
“My coach wasn’t with me at Tokyo 2020 and I had to do the last 10 days of training on my own. The pressure and nervousness of participating at my first Olympics was always there. I constantly thought about my performance," Kaur told Olympics.com.
“Secondly, I get scared to perform in rain. I usually can’t perform well in the rain. Earlier for the Asian Games (2018), I missed out on qualification by one metre, because it was raining during the National event. Later, in the next event, I threw around 61m which was equivalent to Asian Games silver medal. I still have that fear) which makes me think that, ‘what if I slip or get injured in those conditions’. It is still in my mind and I will try to overcome it.”
It is, thus, that Kaur has decided to practice on a damp or wet discus circle when she returns to training after her break following Tokyo 2020.
Kaur believes that it will help her overcome her fear with adequate time in hand, ahead of the World Athletics Championships in July.
“I have planned to practice in the rain or otherwise make the circle wet and train on it. I had thought of doing it before Tokyo 2020 but didn’t risk injury then. But now that I have time for the next Olympics and upcoming events, I will work on this method," Kaur, who trains under her long-time coach Rakhi Tyagi, revealed.
It is, however, not the only area of concern for the ace Indian discus thrower as she also wants to improve her movement inside the discus circle.
“I’m going to work on my speed. I think my technique is a bit slow in comparison to others and the American gold medallist (Valarie Allman at Tokyo 2020). I will try to reduce my spin time inside the circle," Kaur said.
The Indian athlete is hoping to break her own record and build momentum ahead of the crucial events next year: the World Championships, the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and the Asian Games.