MANGALURU: The antics of Haryana shot putter Inderjeet Singh are hard to miss. In his left palm, his throwing arm, he has inscribed the word ‘champion’ and in his mobile phone he carries pictures of his injured knee that he flashes to the media whenever someone inquires about his fitness.
A man who address himself as champion before the competitions, Inderjeet comes across as an expressive, self-obsessed athlete. If you are a puritan, you might find his attitude abrasive. You can dislike him but you can’t ignore this 6’ 5” giant. For he is the new poster boy of Indian athletics.
The 26-year-old Asian Games bronze medalist stapled his name once again on Saturday with a mighty toss that saw him clear 20.65m, 15 centimeters more than the Olympic qualifying mark.
Yet, the genial giant was not amused. He had eyes on the national record of 20.69m, which is in the name of fellow competitor Om Prakash Karhana, who came third here. “I missed the mark by four centimetres. It was close,” he told the media in his usual expressive way by sticking four fingers out.
According to Inderjeet, this win is a fight against all the hurdles he had to clear to stay in the sport. “I am not concerned about rivals. I fear the lack of money. Where is this money coming from? Has any one thought about that? I had to borrow money from a friend to book flight tickets to reach here,” Inderjeet said.
“I don’t want to sling mud at any one for not helping me. All I want to say is that those responsible for that could have helped me better,” he lamented.
Regarding a question on his Olympics preparation he answered in his own style.” I will train every single day. I will give my 100 per cent. If I am alive I will show the world what I can do.”
“If I can throw the iron ball over 21m, I can guarantee a medal. I will throw 22 because I don’t want any other medal. I want gold. Desh ki izzat ka sawaal hain (it’s a question of national pride),” he delivered a parting shot.
In men’s long jump, Ankit Sharma of Haryana carried on his good form as he recorded 7.99m to clinch gold. He had earlier bagged gold in the National Games with a 8.04m leap.
In men’s javelin, Armyman Devender Singh created a meet mark as he hurled the spear to a distance of 79.65m. Tintu Luka ran a one-horse race in the women’s 800m and finished top with a mediocre 2:04.14.
Meanwhile, Odisha athletes Amiya Kumar Mallick and Srabani Nanda emerged the fastest man and woman, respectively. Amiya breasted the tape in 10.56s while Srabani pipped favourite Dutee Chand to finish in 11.59s.