PATIALA: Generally, athletes derive inspiration from the vignettes of the past. When the chips are down, it’s usually the old, greener memories that resuscitate morale.But for Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, the 23-year-old discus thrower, memories were tormenting her. She had won a bronze in the World Junior Championship in 2014 and became the second Indian to do so.Naturally, high stakes were placed on her, but she couldn’t live up to the expectations. And a career that was thought to have just taken off was hanging by a thread.
“It was a tough period,” recollected Kaur. Her graduation to the next level was not as smooth as one would expect. Her performance began plateauing, even though she was winning medals at the domestic circuit.
That wasn’t what Kaur was also expecting. “When I won the World Junior medal, I thought life was going to change. (I) Felt sponsors would line up for me. And then nothing happened. No sponsors, no big support. Life was still the same,” she explained. That gripe was taking a toll on her performance.
And thus began the process of banishing the thoughts of yore. Kaur had one go-to person in the family who had firsthand info on how to handle the situation: Her brother Jasdeep, a shot-putter, who encountered a similar thing in his life.
He was once deemed as a promising thrower, but due to a personal reason, he had to stop it mid-way and then re-start from scratch. Kaur said her brother told her to simplify things and live in the moment.“Don’t dwelve in the past,” he used to tell me. “What has gone is gone. You can’t catch it back. The only thing in your hand is the present. Try to make use of it,” he would say to his younger sister. Kaur’s mom Kuldeep, an Asian Games medallist in hockey, and father Jaspal Singh also ensured that their daughter stayed in the present.
However, Kaur said it was books that helped her deal with the problem. “I read a lot. And that helped a great. I learned a lot from those. And books are good teachers because they won’t hurt you,” she said.
From ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’ to ‘Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing Their World’, Kaur poured over hundreds of self-help books to keep herself rooted to her goal.And when she felt she needed to go abroad, she sought her family’s help and they arranged her training at California with a Dutch thrower Rutger Smith.
Kaur said despite financial constraints — she isn’t getting any official support — she managed to stay afloat because of Rutger’s benevolence. “When he knew about my situation, he said don’t worry about the fee and all. When you get funds, we can talk about it,” Kaur said.The hardwork paid off last week during the Indian Grand Prix when she threw 59.18m to make the cut for the Commonwealth Games.
However, in the Federation Cup here on Monday, she finished behind Seema Punia. Kaur said she could’ve done better, but chose not to be unhappy.For, she has quit harking to the past. “It only brings you miseries,” she was in laughter.