Earlier this weekend, Tajinderpal Singh Toor, the burly shot-putter from Moga, Punjab, broke the Asian Games record in the shot put event, throwing 20.75 in his fifth attempt.
For the 23-year-old gold medal winner, however, the road to success has been laden with passion and sacrifice. He dedicated his victory to his father, who is suffering from cancer.
“This medal is my biggest achievement because a lot of sacrifices have been made. For the last two year, my father (Sardar Karam Singh) has been battling with cancer. My family though never let it distract me. They allowed me to chase my dream.
My family never pressurises me to attend to my father in the hospital, and it was always my friends who took care of all the hospital formalities in my absence. I haven’t gone home much in this period since I was training in Dharamshala,” he told the press after his gold medal win.
Tajinderpal Singh’s father, a farmer, who is currently fighting for his life at the Command Hospital in Panchkula, is battling bone cancer, which is now in its fourth stage and has spread to his brain.
If it wasn’t for his father, Tajinder might not have ever taken to shot put. His interest initially lay in cricket, but Sardar Karam Singh encouraged him to take up an individual sport.
Speaking to the Times of India, Tajinder went onto add, “Now, I will meet my dad, but I will be there for only two days. I have to get ready for the next challenge. My coach MS Dhillon also needs to be credited for the hard work put in by him.”
Employed by the Indian Navy under its sports quota, Tajinder’s family have thanked it for helping them pay for Sardar Karam’s treatment.
“The biggest help for our family has come from the Indian Navy. It has been taking care of all the expenses, which has ensured that Tajinder focuses only on his game, and trains peacefully,” said Gurudev Singh, Tajinder’s uncle, to Times of India.
During the event itself, however, some quick (code) words from his coach MS Dhillon were what helped Tajinderpal attain that additional record-breaking edge. The criticism against the Commonwealth Games silver medal-winner until then had always been that he couldn’t perform to his maximum in major tournaments.
Not anymore, though.
“I wasn’t happy with the flow of his throws, and told him to get it out of his arm cleanly. Hence the record-breaking throw,” the coach told Scroll.in.
For Tajinderpal, meanwhile, the aim wasn’t even the Asian Games gold but breaking the 21-metre mark. While he could not manage to do this, he definitely won the hearts and minds of this nation starved of track and field success.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)