Tajinder Pal Singh Toor’s face was filled with anguish after his second, failed, attempt in the shot put on Sunday. The reigning champion had failed his first throw as well and was in danger of being eliminated if he did make the top 8. His next two were successful but, with 20.06 as his best, he was behind Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Kolo at 20.18. His fifth attempt was a foul. He had one last shot at gold.
He did what champions do: Fling the iron ball 20.36m to claim gold, by some distance.
It reaffirmed his status among Asia’s shot putters and also his confidence in himself ahead of the Games. Speaking to ESPN from Patiala a few days before the event, he was clear he’d win, the only doubt was by how much. “I am confident of winning gold, I have full faith in myself,” he said.
Tajinder (28) went into the Games having only thrown the iron ball a handful of times at his training base in Patiala. A recurring injury to his groin meant he had to undergo surgery and pace himself ahead of Hangzhou.
It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of years for Tajinder, India’s best-ever shot-putter. In 2021, he suffered a wrist injury right before the Olympics and underwent surgery after a poor finish in Tokyo. In 2022, he qualified for the World Championships in Eugene, USA, but pulled his groin on the day of the competition and had to withdraw. He took time away from the sport and made a strong comeback when he threw 21.20m at the Indian Grand Prix in April 2023. But he was soon on the operation table to remove a knot in his shoulder.
He says he got back to lifting weights the very next day and the result of that was an Asian record throw of 21.77m at the Inter-States in Bhubaneswar. But then the groin injury resurfaced – though he won gold at the Asian Athletics Championship with an injured groin.
He was diagnosed with a grade 3 tear in his adductor magnus muscle, the largest muscle in the groin region. Back he went to the surgery table. “Yeh toh chalti rehti hai..sukh dukh…[ these things keep happening…joy and disappointment]” he said.
While playing down these injuries, he did agree that it affects him mentally. “It does mentally disturb me, but then I push myself and shift focus to the next competition. I fall, pick myself up and go again. That’s my mantra. Sportspersons have to be a little ziddi [adamant] to succeed,” he said.
He relates to what Neeraj Chopra went through when the latter hurt his groin earlier this year. “As throwers, we put a lot of load on our groin muscles. The groin muscle bears nearly 2x to 3x our body weight when we throw and that strains the muscle.”
He wants to do for the shot put what Neeraj has done for Indian javelin. “I’ve raised the standard for Indian shot put from mid-19m to 21m+ now. I hope to cross the 22m mark soon and set an example,” he says.
Five years and four injuries later, Tajinder Pal Singh Toor has climbed back to the top of the podium at a major international event. It’s a sight that he promises will be a recurring one going forward.
Source : ESPN