Kolkata: The official twitter handle of Tokyo 2020 for India termed Kamalpreet Kaur’s qualifying effort as a ‘‘monster throw’’ as the 25-year-old Indian discus thrower raised the vision of a first-ever athletics medal for the country in Olympics on Saturday.
The Patiala-born discus thrower breached the qualification mark to make the finals with a throw of 64 metres, finishing second in the qualifiers to Valarie Allman of the United States, who recorded a distance of 66.42 metres. Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic came in third with a throw of 63.75 metres.
While Allman looks a favourite for the gold medal in the final on Monday, Kamalpreet became the first finalist from India in athletics in Tokyo and stands a very realistic chance of a medal as none of the other qualifiers could reach the 64m mark.
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‘‘There goes #IND’s first #Athletics finalist at #Tokyo2020. After a slow start with a throw of 60.29m, Kamalpreet Kaur pulled out a monster throw of 64m in her third attempt to qualify for the final of women’s discus throw event,” the Twitter handle for Tokyo 2020 for India captioned the video.
The super effort from Kamalpreet still falls below her best of a national record which stands at 65.06 - at the Federation Cup in March this year.
The responsibility for mounting a challenge rested on Kamalpreet’s able shoulders as compatriot and Asian Games gold medallist Seema Punia bowed out with a 16th-place finish earlier.
A total of 12 throwers qualify for the final. However, with just two of them managing to cross the direct qualification mark of 64 metres, the other 10 were decided on the basis of their best attempts on Saturday.
Seema Punia exited the event with a 16th-place finish in qualifying as the 2018 Incheon Asian Games gold medallist’s best throw was 60.57m. Her first attempt was a foul and her last measured throw was 58.93m.
Kamalpreet breached the 60m mark with an opening throw of 60.29 metres. Her next throw was 63.97 metres followed by the 64-metre effort in the final attempt that helped her confirm a place in the final on Monday.
Pooja Rani falls short
Boxer Pooja Rani, who showed a glimmer of hope by making the quarter finals, crashed to a heavy defeat to Li Qian of women’s middle (69-75kg) category.
There was, however, a bigger disappointment earlier as Amit Panghal, the world No. 1 in men’s 52kg, crashed out to Yuberjen Herney Martinez Rivas of Colombia in a Round-of-16 bout.
Panghal, India’s biggest hope in this section, lost 4-1 (rpt 4-1) on points, starting the day on a disappointing note for boxing after the high of Lovlina Borgohain reaching the semi-finals and assuring a medal for the country.
Panghal, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, had drawn a tough opponent in Martinez Rivas, the silver medallist at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The 25-year-old Indian from Haryana started off well and won the first round. Starting with an open stance and moving around the ring, Panghal made Martinez Rivas come for him and make him work for his points. Panghal counter-attacked on all possible occasions and landed some good combinations, winning a split decision 4-1 in his favour.
Panghal later changed his tactics inexplicably in the second round and became too defensive, maybe hoping to make Martinez Rivas work hard for points so as to tire down the Colombian.
Women’s hockey team stay afloat
Indian women’s hockey team kept their qualification hopes alive with a 4-3 win against South Africa in their Pool A match, with Vandana Katariya firing the hat-trick.
Katariya (4’, 17’, 49’) and Neha (32’) found the back of the net for India and helped their team clinch three crucial points in the competition. India’s place in the knockout stage of the tournament depends on the match between Ireland and Great Britain later in the day.