27-years-old, 6 feet 5 inch, weighing 165 kg, Inderjeet Singh is the new star on the horizon of Indian athletics. With a string of 19 metres throws to his credit lately, the Punjab born shot putter has been making waves within the sporting circle after he booked a ticket to the Rio Olympics, making the cut during the Federation Cup earlier this year.
Fame: Quickly Established
After establishing himself in domestic circuits, Inderjeet Singh burst into the international scene in 2013, when he won India’s first ever track-and-field medal in the World University Games, Universiade. In 2013, during the Asian Athletics Championship held in Pune, where the host country was allowed to send three participants in each event, Inderjeet was named along with stalwarts Stayendra Singh and Om Prakash. The newbie finished fourth with a throw of 19.35 metres, behind Om Prakash, who took bronze with 19.45 metres.
In Kazan, Russia, Singh brought laurels for India, in a pair of ill-fitting shoes. After airport authorities misplaced his luggage, he had to fit his 11 and a half sized feet into a pair of borrowed size 10 shoes. Then 25-years-old, Singh took silver with an effort of 19.70 metres, in his fifth and penultimate throw. The medal was India’s first ever in the Universiade games. The ticker tape parade and ear shattering ovations that any athlete would have expected, were missing when he returned home. A story many athletes in India are familiar with.
However, this was merely an appetizer for Singh. In the 2014 Asian Games held in Incehon, South Korea, he bagged a bronze (19.63 metres), finishing behind Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Al Hebshi (19.99 metres) and Chinese Taipei’s Chang Miang Huang (19.97 metres). This came a few months after he beat National Record Holder Om Prakash Khartana enroute to a gold in the National Athletics Championship in Patiala.
2015: A Golden Year
Halfway through 2015, and it looks like Singh’s had an early Christmas. He booked a berth on the Rio bound team, with an almighty personal best of 20.65 metres at the Federation Cup held in Mangalore, May this year. Incidentally, this was just 0.4 metres short of the National record ( 20.69 metres, set by Om Prakash Khartana in Hungary, 2012). Last month, Singh blew away the competition to take a hat-trick of gold medals for India at the Asian Athletics Grand Prix. He opened India’s account in the Asian Athletics at Wuhan with a record breaking throw. To say that he’s on a roll would be an understatement.
Just last week, he bettered the colour of his World University Games’ medal, with a throw of 20.27 metres, becoming the first Indian to take gold in the event. This was followed by a record breaking performance in the National Senior Athletics championships, where his gold winning throw of 20.44 metres created a new meet record. Tipped for a medal from Rio, the 27-years-old shot putter will be looking to reap his 8th medal of the year next month in the World Championships in China.
Things are not so rosy though. Inderjeet’s is a ‘rags-to-riches’ story with a twist. The bandwagon hasn’t reached the “riches” part yet. With a horde of medals in his kitty, quite a few “first-evers” and an Olympics berth, Inderjeet Singh is still in the middle of a financial crisis. He does not have a job or other endorsements. What is not lacking, however, is the will. The medals, he can bring, but we need to provide the monetary backing. We know this is not an isolated story. It is high time we all snapped out of our reverie, stopped being so oblivious to the obvious and noticed the life of those working towards bringing glory to the country. Sports Rediscovered wishes Inderjeet singh all the very best in his journey for Gold !