‘Kamalpreet could produce a big surprise’

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She quit sport soon after the 2016 Rio Olympics but now Krishna Poonia is excited with discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur’s stunning progress this year. And she feels the 25-year-old could pull off a big surprise at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I was happy when she crossed 65m to break my national record and she has done that twice this year. If she does 66-plus like she did recently, I think she can win a medal in Tokyo,” said Krishna, the first Indian woman to win a Commonwealth Games gold (2010, New Delhi), in a chat with The Hindu from Jaipur.

Four discus throwers have crossed 68m this year, two have gone past 70m, and there are many more who have been consistent but Krishna, who was sixth at 2012 London — the best by an Indian thrower ever at the Summer Games, feels the global pandemic could throw up plenty of surprises in Tokyo.

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Massive throws

Surprises were aplenty in India too. While all eyes were on former Asian Games champion Seema Antil-Punia, Kamalpreet, who had a personal best of 61.04m prior to this season, shocked everybody with those two massive throws — 65.06m in March and 66.59m in June — which saw her jump to the sixth spot in the world list.

Kamalpreet’s sudden rise has not surprised Krishna.

“Every athlete has a time. Seema (the 37-year-old has also qualified for Tokyo) is senior and has had her good time earlier but I think she will find it very difficult to cross 65m. Kamalpreet is a young athlete,” said Krishna.

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“If someone young is doing well, I can say my discus throw event is getting recognised and athletes are coming in. If we don’t have people coming, nobody will remember the event.”

Virendar Poonia, Krishna’s husband who was also her coach, feels Kamalpreet’s arm length gives her an advantage.

“Her strong point may be her arm length, that’s the main thing in discus. I think it is longer than Krishna’s,” he said.

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“Her only weakness is that this is her first major competition. She has not been to the World championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games or the Diamond League.”

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