Tokyo 2020: Shot putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor overcomes depression, broken wrist to secure Olympics quota

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As soon as he breached the Olympic qualification mark in the recently-concluded Indian Grand Prix-4, Tajinder Pal Singh Toor gave his coach Mohinder Singh Dhillon a warm hug. Toor crossed the Olympics qualification mark of 21.10m with a throw of 21.49m and bettered his national record.

Toor has endured one too many swings of misfortune in recent years. Days after he won the Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta, he lost his father (Sardar Karam Singh) to bone cancer. He got the news of his father’s demise when he was in the taxi after returning from Jakarta and was on the way to the Command Hospital in Panchkula. Toor hails from Khosa Pando village in the Moga district of Punjab.

In March 2020, when he was at his peak, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, and the Olympics were postponed for a year. A few months later, when lockdown in Patiala was lifted, and the athletes started training outdoor, Toor fractured his wrist of throwing arm (Left hand).

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The injury affected Toor mentally, and he went into depression.

“Past few years have been very tough for Toor. Life has been cruel to him. During the lockdown, he went into depression. He will keep asking me, Coach saab, if I will qualify for the Tokyo or not. He started questioning himself,” recalls Mohinder Singh Dhillon, Tajinder’s coach.

“In March, just before the first lockdown, he was getting close to the 22m mark, and then for the next three months, he didn’t even lift the shot put. So it was frustrating for him,” added Dhillon.

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Even with a plaster on his left hand, Toor never missed the gym session and kept working on his fitness.

“He used to hit the gym every day. We set up smaller goals, and we decided that we will not take any risk and will skip the competitions. But by god grace, he recovered quickly, and he resumed training in January,” said Dhillon.

In February, Toor threw 19.49m in the Indian Grand Prix-2 in Patiala, his first competition since the World Military Games in October 2019. In March, during the Federation Cup in Patiala, Toor made significant progress with a 20.58m though not close to his national record of 20.92m or the Olympic qualification mark of 21.10m.

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Toor was supposed to go to Turkey for the training before the Olympics. But his coach Tajinder Dhillon was denied the visa because he was infected with Covid-19.

“It was heartbreaking, and he didn’t travel to Turkey because of me. I was asymptomatic, but protocols are protocols. So, we decided to train in Patiala,” said Dhillon.

Dhillon believes that if Toor manages to cross the 22m mark, he will sure shot return with a medal from Tokyo.

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“Our target is cross 22m mark in Tokyo, and if he manages to cross it, he will return with a medal. He is in a good rhythm, and hopefully, he will be on the podium in the Olympics,” said Dhillon.

Like most Indian boys, Tajinder was initially interested in cricket. But his late father insisted that he should try an individual sport. Since Toor’s uncle (Gurdev Singh) was already into shot put, he got actively involved in the sport. And, that’s how to shot put happened to Toor.

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